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The book that every one of Lincoln's friends, 
admirers and collectors will vitally need and 
want: Lincoln's philosophy in his own words; 
his views on the widely ranging phases of hu- 
man, of individual as well as social ideals and 

Coming to the public in the year of Lincoln's 
Sesquicentennial Celebration, this handy-sized 
and thought-packed volume bears an unfor- 
gettable message to every American and to all 
mankind in these again troubled times, a mes- 
sage from one of the heights of the heritage of 
the United States. 

Compiled by one of the foremost Lincoln 
scholars of our day and the Executive Director 
of the United States Lincoln Sesquicentennial 
Commission, Professor Baringer's book makes 
some of the very greatest words that have ever 
been spoken on American soil live again for all 
who wish to read and re-read them. 

Surprisingly enough for such a great man, the 
sources for the accurate texts of Lincoln's writ- 
ings and speeches are not readily accessible 
to the non-specialist. This book fills that need 
and makes those words accessible. Here the 
reader will find home-spun humor, capital 
common sense, wonderfully adept judgment 
and human appraisal, profound feeling, and 
above all, a deep and irresistible love for one's 
fellow man. A book to remember, to keep 
nearby, along with Shakespeare and the Bible. 

"... absorbing document of human interest." 
"... indispensable reference work " 
"... the record of the thinking and values of 
one of the few truly great human beings to 
play a mayor part in history and in man's 
faith in himself" 

Three dollars and fifty cents 




the Class of 1901 

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Portrait of 


i8og- 1865 

as photographed by Alexander Gardner in Washington, on November 
75, 1863, four days before the President delivered his famous 
Gettysburg Address. It is one of the best known Lincoln photographs. 















All rights reserved 

No portion thereof in this book may 

' reproduced in any form except in book reviews 

without permission in writing from 

the publisher 

Library of Congress 
Catalogue Card No. S9~ I 4557 

Printed in Switzerland 

973, 7L< 


Lee White 

Administrative Assistant to 

Senator John Sherman Cooper, Chairman 

Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission 

Albert Gechter 

Graduate Student 
University of Florida 

Both of whom unwittingly 

played key parts in the chain of events 

leading to this publication 


General Editor's Introduction .... XI 

Foreword . . xxvn 

Preface .. .. xxix 

I Human Interest 3 

II On Politics and Politicians 23 

in On Slavery and its Problems 41 

IV On Law and its Profession 67 

V On American Institutions 73 

VI On Liberty 109 

VII On Religion 119 

VIII On Labor 125 

IX On Union, Disunion, and the War . . 131 

x On Civil Liberties, Red Tape, and the 

War 155 

/ also know your courage and your dignity : 

A dignity that came from the big, clean open spaces 

Of your heart. 

I know your loneliness ; Abe Lincoln, 

And I am part of it. 

I am part of your sorrow, 

And I am part of your pain - 

That last, fierce pain you knew 

As a little man's bullet 

Burned into your flesh. 

Yes, I know your story well, 

And I am part of it. 

I am part of you, Abe Lincoln, 

And I walk in your shadow - 

That long, slow shadow 

That stretches out beyond your sleep, 

Beyond your dream. 

From a Poem by Libby Stopple, Texas 
(printed by permission) 


The occasion of welcoming Professor Baringer's unique and 
fine compilation of the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln into 
the Keystone Series of enduring books is both pleasurable 
and yet surrounded with serious and even grave reflections. 
For we are today living through times tragically witnessing 
the deliberate undermining and overthrow of the highest 
moral principles that have hitherto led and dignified man- 
kind, the principles of which Lincoln was an unforgettable 

Today there is a greater civil war ravaging all mankind. 
The question before us is whether an unscrupulous minority, 
treacherously and without popular mandate seizing the reins 
of government, shall be allowed to steal everyone else's priv- 
ate liberties and properties, and then subvert the entire pop- 
ulace to slavery, using brute force and murder as their ulti- 
mate means. The question is whether an oligarchical minor- 
ity falsely calling itself "The State" shall be allowed to en- 
slave the populations of nations, in a slavery far more degrad- 
ing and brutal than any system of private slavery : for gov- 
ernment property has always been notoriously more ill- 
treated than private property. There is no individual who 
loses if such property is damaged, no individual responsibil- 
ity, and consequently an exponentially degenerate growth of 
disregard for human life and dignity. That degeneration and 
disregard are nowhere more evident than in the vast slave la- 
bor camps, called communes in Red China, and concentra- 
tion camps in Soviet Russia, which support as their necessary 


foundation the entire misery-spawned superstructure of slave 
or Communist societies. * 

Lincoln's stand against such a colossal form of slavery 
would have been even more uncompromisingly stern than his 
historical stand against private slavery. For in enslavement 
by the State, the very origin of man's forming into social 
groups for mutual protection and maximal individual free- 
dom is perverted and betrayed, and tyranny is blasphem- 
ously touted as the religion of such obscenity masquerad- 
ing as government. 

Side by side with the 20 th Century's great conflict over 
enslavement by the State in the hands of criminal oligarchy 
stands the kindred question of the allowance of an ever-in- 
creasing brutality, which emerged after the first large-scale 
use of weapons of mass-destruction in World War I. The 
two questions go hand in hand, for criminal oligarchies' nat- 
ural gravitation is toward acquiring more and more power 
of mass-destruction, however horrible the means, just so 
long as the efficiency of the death-dealing power increases. 
The power of mass-destruction is a necessity to mass-enslave- 
ment. For slave populations must be controlled by force 
when not psychologically drugged. 

Lincoln's stand here is clear too. "Civilized belligerents," 
he wrote in a letter to James Conkling dated August 26, 1863, 
"do all in their power to help themselves, or hurt the enemy, 
except a few things regarded as barbarous and cruel. Among 
the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non- 
combatants, male and female." The criminal bombings 
of civilians on both sides during World War II remove 
every so-called great nation of the world today from the 

1 See "Forced Labor in Soviet Russia" by David J. Dallin and Boris 
Nicolaevsky, copyright by Yale University Press and published by 
Hollis and Carter, Ltd., 25 Ashley Place, London, S.W.I. 


ranks of the civilized in the definition of one of mankind's 
worthiest and highest examples, Abraham Lincoln. There 
is no conclusion to be drawn but that the kind of men 
who have seized leadership have betrayed humanity suc- 
cessively more and more since the opening of the 20 th 

But even though we have not clear national goodness any 
longer, we are able to distinguish outright evil from various 
shades of weakness. How worthy or great a nation is today de- 
pends on a very simple fact : how much that nation actually 
respects and enforces the rights and liberties of individuals 
as such within its borders. For the sore conflicts today over 
State-enslavement and mass-brutality, and the extent to 
which each one of these cancers has encroached on any re- 
gion, can be discovered by using this simple measuring line. 
Individual mankind is the key. 

What we wrote as an editorial 1 in 1952 seems even more 
appropriate today - so much so that we feel called upon to 
repeat those words here : 

"As I would not be a slave, "The State is an institution for 

so I would not be a master." the exercising of violence." 


In the ancient Finnish epic, the Kalevala, to know and 
recite the origin and name of an evil demon was to exorcize 
it. That is still true today. When we know the origin and 
name of an evil force - the true nature of it denuded of all 
fa£ades, the roots of what 'makes it tick' - then more than 
half the battle is won. It is long past time for totalitarian 
Communism to be named, and its roots spoken. 

1 The Jacob Boehme Quarterly, Winter 1952. 


The roots lie deep in human nature, and the two men 
named are but two sides of man himself, between which he 
must choose unequivocally today - or die to his humanity. 

The slow sifting process of historical centuries has precip- 
itated a result from all its mixtures of good and evil - has pro- 
duced a final separation in the ways of organizing human 
behaviour. Man now has before him the conclusive choice 
of extending violence, hate and injustice on the one hand, or 
freedom, love and justice on the other, toward his fellow man. 

During the history of Western civilization at the very least, 
there has been no clearer example of the very core of the 
credo of violence than Lenin; and no more compelling 
example of the belief and practice of freedom, humanitarian 
love, and justice than Lincoln. Two final forms of the social 
character of mankind - examplified so diametrically in the 
two men themselves, two ultimate systems of human and 
societal relationships, one based on mistrust and the idea of 
the absolute arbitrary public master, the other based on trust 
and the idea of the great, elected public servant - these con- 
stitute the choice that the shuffling of history has yielded 
to mankind in the last deal of the cards. The problem of 
Communism is but the problem of that choice. 

Dictatorial oligarchy requires unprincipled men for its 
continuance and formation. Free popular representation and 
elective power requires, on the other hand, men of principle 
and ethical integrity as an indispensable condition for its 
continuance. If principled men come not to be chosen to 
guide the people, then insofar as that condition exists, un- 
principled men will choose themselves to rule them, vault- 
ing themselves to power through chaos. Where there is not 
active health and sanity, there will ill-health and insanity 
speedily become actively manifest. Right choice must main- 
tain right results. 


The most outstanding characteristic of history has been 
trial and error and the freedom of choice they entail. The 
historical process is and has been by no means determined 
except by the desires in men they have allowed to determine 
them, by their own permission within themselves to begin 
with. Fish may be caught on hooks assuredly; and just as 
assuredly it is the fishes' greed for the bait that led them 

So was it Lenin's own appetite for power and violence 
that step by step forged his own choice, the choice against 
the humanity of the Golden Rule, against any form of fine 
character, ethics or principles, and for the criminality of 
self-justifying any means, for terrorism, falsification, and 

There was no extenuating cricumstance for this choice of 
Lenin's. The cause lay in himself. For on the eve of his 
birth, in the Russia of 1870, there were already two clearly 
defined and very different revolutionary programs. One was 
based on the principles of social democracy and elective 
majority; the other, upon dictatorship over the people in 
their very name, by the projected ruse of a conspiratorial coup 
of an autocratic few carrying the sophistry of Marxism to its 
inevitable immorality, wherein Communism is seen to be 
nothing more than the most hypocritical fascism of them all. 

This language is not strong. It is merely factual, and the 
facts are not pleasant. 

Representative of the first group were Herzen and Lavrov. 

Herzen had already written in 1867 : 

Social progress is possible only under complete republican freedom, 
under full democratic equality. 

Herzen had felt that every republic would have to lead to 
socialism, something we today know is not true at all. But, 
returning to the central thesis of his remarks, he said : 


On the other hand, Socialism which might try to dispense with polit- 
ical freedom would rapidly degenerate into autocratic Communism. 

Here Herzen was truly a prophet. Somewhat later, Lavrov, 

wrote even more specifically : 

History has shown us that the possession of great power currupts the 
best people... Every dictatorship must surround itself with compulsory 
means of defense which must serve as obedient tools in its hands, every 
dictatorship is called upon to suppress not only its reactionary oppo- 
nents, but also those who disagree with its methods and actions. Whenever a 
dictatorship succeeded in establishing itself it had to spend more time and 
effort in maintaining its power... than upon the realization of its program. 

Representative of the other group were Nechaiev, Bakun- 

in and Tkachev. The basic creed of this group, which was 

later to become official Soviet Party-line propaganda, was 

expressed in the "Catechism" of Nechaiev and Bakunin 

published and spread in and after 1869 : 

The Revolutionist... has no private interests, no business affairs, no 
sentiments, ties, property, nor even a name of his own... Heart and soul, 
not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social 
order, and... the civilized world... He is its merciless enemy and conti- 
nues to inhabit it with only one purpose - to destroy it... Everything 
with promotes the success of the revolution is moral, everything which 
hinders it is immoral... The nature of the true revolutionist excludes all 
romanticism, all tenderness, all love. 

This unmanly creed bore its appropriate fruit in the per- 
sons of Lenin, and succeeding him, Stalin, - inwardly twist- 
ed out of human shape. It also distinguishes the Com- 
munist from all other political adherents : he is an avowed 
enemy to the rest of the world. His presence in any other 
government and milieu than his treasonable own, born of 
betrayal of the people, means traitorism and treason. Com- 
munists are not a bona fide political party, but members of a 
conspiratorial network of espionage and sabotage agents of a 
foreign imperialist power - the Soviet Union, the most ex- 
tended empire based on slavery of the most vicious sort the 
world has ever seen. 


Bakunin later becomes even more revealing than Ne- 

chaiev when even he became filled with revulsion at his own 

disciple Nechaiev's ideas. Bakunin, the sad type of man who 

is unable in time to discern the logical conclusions of his own 

immoral half-truths, thus finally wrote in disillusion of 

the movement he had helped to found : 

With the expection of... chosen leaders, all the members should serve 
as blind tools in the hands of those leaders... It is permissible to deceive 
these members... rob them, and even murder them if necessary. They 
are merely cannon fodder for conspiracies. For the good of the cause he 
(the leader) must be allowed to gain full mastery over your person, even 
against your will. 

The lesser fry, as in any criminal organization, are con- 
temptible dupes. Here the Communists of the world may 
see the attitude toward them by the 'Central Party.' For 
Nechaiev's group and credo was the ideological allegiance 
that Lenin chose, even with Bakunin's retraction before him. 

What makes the matter still more remarkable is that Ne- 
chaiev's ideas and following did not win the Russian Revo- 
lution of 19 17. It was rather Herzen and Lavrov who won 
in 1917. Lenin's Bolsheviks were a counter-revolutionary 
movement that overthrew the Russian Revolution. This has 
never been made sufficiently clear and pointed, though the 
facts are available and have been printed. On the contrary, 
there is a most insidious tendency in both England and Amer- 
ica to whitewash the sepulchre of Communism and make 
it appear respectable, rotten though it is. But of this later. 
Lenin's comparative handful of armed Bolsheviki riffraff and 
fanatics, headed by the conspiratorial leaders called 'The 
Military Revolutionary Committee,' slayed peasants and 
workers both, and arrested, by force of arms, the Provisional 
Revolutionary Government of Kerensky and Konovalov. 

Despite Lenin's counter-revolutionary coup, popular opin- 
ion throughout Russia demanded a republican Constituent 


Assembly to be called. Out of 707 elected deputies by the 
Russian people, only 175 were Bolshevik, and out of the 175 
only 40 were pro-Lenin Bolsheviki. Yet that 40, by means 
of arming city riffraff and using Lettish mercenaries, over- 
threw the Constituent Assembly - the most democratic event 
in the history of Russia - and seizing counter-revolutionary 
power, defeated the will of the people. All the chaos and con- 
fusion inherent in the revolutionary situation were taken 
advantage of to mask this seizure of power by a criminal few, 
whose purposes were well expressed by Lenin after the fall of 
the Constituent Assembly : 

We made a mistake in not postponing the calling of the Constituent 
Assembly. We acted very incautiously. But it comes out all to the better. 
The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by the Soviet Government 
means a complete and frank liquidation of the idea of democracy by the 
idea of dictatorship. It will serve as a good lesson. 

Compare this with the sentiments of the actual winners of 
the Russian Revolution, (in turn overthrown by Lenin's con- 
spiracy) as expressed by one of its 19 18 survivors, the inter- 
esting figure of Vera Figner : 

None of us was a Jacobin. We never thought of forcing upon the ma- 
jority of the people the will of the minority, and we never planned a 
government that would bring about revolutionary, socialistic, economic, 
and political changes by decree... Should the people's representatives 
favour some measure that is directly opposed to the demands of the rev- 
olutionary party, this party would under no circumstances resort to 
acts of violence and terrorism to enforce its program. 

Here was the voice of Herzen, Lavrov and for that matter, 
Masaryk - the voice of the group first mentioned, the group 
that won the Russian Revolution only to be in turn down- 
trodden by Lenin's ruthless and autocratic counter-revolution. 

However, it must be stated in logical justice that any 
idealogy, like Marxism, which repudiates all ethics and any 
Higher Power than arrogant man, subverting human nature 
to purely material values, - can scarcely avoid arriving at 


Nechaiev and Leninism by its own internal logic. Commu- 
nism is the enslavement of all the persons in the nation - 
summarily called 'masses' or 'workers' - by a conspiratorial 
few identifying themselves with and as 'the State' by the use 
of armed force and terroristic policing. It is a system which is 
the natural denouement of the phenomenon we may term 
anthropolatry : the worship of man by man, as a god suf- 
ficient unto himself; and its close kin : the rejection of ethical 
certainties and principles of integrity. It is the final degener- 
ation of humanism without God. 

Now an extremely significant fact becomes apparent. Every 
system of values which claims that man is sufficient unto 
himself and simply a higher animal in nature, with reason- 
ing rather than ethics his basic feature, - any such anthro- 
polatrous system finally becomes pregnant with its final 
abortion, namely Communism, which can in derision call 
itself the humanism of the 20 th century. 

Naturalism, with its sophistical denial of man's distinctive 
feelings and heart, of all ethical verities, and with its equally 
sophistical attempts to persuade us that humanism must be 
anthropolatry, - is the natural breeding ground of Marxism, 
which merely carries these notions into the political sphere. 
The denial of Divinity and the divinity in man, the denial 
of ethics in the vicious equating of 'good' with 'good for me 
and pleasant,' - all this effectively prepares the warped mind 
for the espousal of full anthropolatry and the negation of all 
moral values as 'relativistic.' Any means are 'good' relative 
to my own ends, said Lenin's credo. 

There are indeed an infinite number of relations in this 
world. But they are governed by the most profoundly fixed 
ethical principles, the denial of which in practice leads to the 
moral deterioration of man. It was Lincoln's noble distinc- 
tion never to have lost sight of this foundational truth : Let 


us do the right as God gives us to see the right.,.. Lincoln's 
entire principle was to seek for the Divine Will, the will of 
Love, Wisdom and Right Doing, within himself, and then to 
live in the ennobling faith that all circumstances following 
upon his having done his highest and best would have to 
eventuate in greater good than before. It was a good and lov- 
ing will, without the least taint of arrogance and self-exalta- 
tion, that was Lincoln's only final steersman through his 
greatest problems. Ideas were never more important for Lin- 
coln than men and women, whom ideas are supposed to 
serve. He never bowed down and worshipped, as did Lenin, 
Hitler and their ilk, a Luciferean image in and controlling 
his own mind. He sought only the Highest Good, and he 
knew that goodness and slavery of any sort are incompatible. 
Lincoln and Lenin are two sides of man, the light and the 
raging darkness within each man. The first wishes to free and 
seeks not itself, the second seeks its own will only and wishes 
to enchain. One can be led to the second and its predominance 
by the easy stages of naturalizing man and materializing na- 
ture, or by any form of ultimate pluralism, which denies inner 
relations between things : which denies meaning and saves 
words to worship. Pluralism reflects ethically as complete 
amorality, for actions are atomistic, and there can be no ab- 
solute ethical principles. And let it be clearly understood, 
any amorality is immorality. Any man whose will is not good, 
is doing bad. There is no such thing as an ethical vacuum, as 
the amoralists and ethical relativists would have us believe, 
in order to ease their own doubts by the empty expedient of 
obtaining companions in misery. Pseudo-objective 'behav- 
iorism' leads to same end. Some scientists, and the so- 
called intelligentsia - as distinct from the intelligent - can 
particularly fall heirs to anthropolatry and amorality in the 
names of 'naturalism ' 'scientific humanism' and the like. The 


very next step in this development is the sociopolitical ex- 
pression of such views : Marxism. 

The ethical impoverishment of the majority of America's 
universities, particularly in the departments of philosophy - 
where the ethical truths verifiably discovered by all the great 
leaders of mankind should be taught, rather than the spine- 
less non-committalism which today passes for courses in 
ethics and comparative religion - this ethical improverishment 
is the first step toward the totalitarian state. The repudiation 
of moral verities is the first step to Lenin. The ceaseless 
search for ethical principles and the practice of integrity in 
one's daily life is the first step toward Lincoln. 

Today it is the choice of ethics and principles that must 
first be made before any political policy can be formulated. 
It is the characteristic choice facing 20 th century man. And 
he who has not chosen the Light, has chosen the darkness, and 
has eliminated himself. The United States, irrespective of 
whether any others so choose or not, must and is highly called 
upon to choose the way of Lincoln who, more than any other, is 
the best of the United States of America. If we fail Lincoln, we 
fail our better selves. These days shall be written as the true fiery 
trial, not only of America, but of all the peoples of the earth. 
Lincoln mentioned that 'fiery trial,' and his words are highly 
appropriate today. And it was well known by Jacob Boehme 
that the fire can be tinctured only by the light, in this caset the 
light of a deep ethical awareness - the only light by which 
20 th century mankind will find its way out of the morass. 

Whatever power Communism holds in men's minds 
today stems from several specific sources, other than those 
more general ones discussed in the account of its origin. 
Rather, the specific sources are more like offshoots from the 
root of non-ethics and the materialization of man, together 
with anthropolatry. We list some of these specific sources : 


i. Communism pretends to be the proper humanism for a 
materialistic age. The claim by Communism that material 
conditions are the only relevancies for mankind, though it 
is disproved by every case of a wealthy person's committing 
suicide, - finds many advocates today, whose own loss of 
inner values confirms for them the Communistic claim, thus 
turning them into grist for Communism's mill. Into this in- 
tellectual-fodder category, sometimes quite unaware, march 
the ethical fence-sitters, the 'naturalistic' thinkers, the plural- 
ists and nominalists of all sorts, the verbalists and all those 
who worship things and ideas more than the Living Maker 
of things and ideas. 

2. The restless discontent of the modern world - shot full 
of compromises on the most fundamental moral principles, 
so full of ethical uncertainties. This basic anxiety, discon- 
tent and ethical supineness all make for certainties being sneer- 
ed at and sour-grapishly ridiculed, unless they are not cer- 
tainties but brutalities of feeling and thinking ; for the very 
sneerers at ethical certainty are the first to substitute for 
their lack by falling down before some form of blind emo- 
tionalism and sensationism elevated into a creed. For some 
creed, man must have, whether it ennoble or degenerate him. 
The ridicule of moral principles is, of course, good Commu- 
nist party line. And the emergence of fascist tendencies, born 
of unhealthy hate-filled emotionalisms, is viewed with glee 
by Communists as part of the ferment of a decadence which 
plays into their hands. For the same reasons the cult of ugli- 
ness as a substitute for beauty, or disintegration in place of 
an ideal or idea, in the arts, is hailed as a decadent tendency, 
which Lenin himself would extol as an ally. 

3. The Communist promises and love of violence allow its 
purveyors to pander to this discontent and the states of mind 
it arouses. 


4. The lack on the part of the political leaders of the non- 
Communist world, of any ethical-social program for man- 
kind, to fill the prevailing tragic moral bankruptcy, - is 
eagerly plied, and the vacuum filled, by the poisonous falsi- 
fications of Communist propaganda. 

5. The essence of the modus operandi of Communist pro- 
paganda is that the pseudo-ethics of expediency - all too 
often used by governments throughout history -is now exalt- 
ed into a ruthless creed and turned against all governments 
by one conspiratorial group, glorying in being apostate from 
genuine human feeling - fooling the people. 

6. Modern man is unfortunately but by and large a mass 
man. He is, and hence feels, 'lost in the shuffle.' He is not an 
individual but a fearful thing and cog in a group, anxious to 
make the 'approved' or 'adjusted' reaction that will gain him 
prestige among his frightened ilk. To the purveyors of 'ad- 
justment' as ethics, it can be said first that the successful 
thief has 'well adjusted' himself to criminality. The loss of 
Lenin's and other Communist consciences is an excellent 
sign of unexceptionable 'adjustment.' 

Adjustment to what, and to what end? is the truly ethical 
question, immediately showing how irrelevant mere ad- 
justment is in anything but purely sensationistic hedonism, - 
a part of the Marxist degraded and spiritually emasculated 
view of human nature, and developed by the Communist 
ruling class into the hedonism of whip-wielding, of sadism. 

The lack of individual consideration and the mass regimen- 
tation of modern man are a fitting 'prep' school for the Com- 
munist antheap state. 

7. This lack of individual dignity, stemming ultimately 
from too few modern individuals practising ethics as indivi- 
duals, finds unhealthy reflections in the labor-management 
relations so easily exploited by Communism. It should be re- 


cognized that the basic labor problem in the United States is 
psychological,andhas long sincepassed the stage of beingsimp- 
ly economic. The machine-worship has deteriorated the artis- 
an's creative dignity, and has bred discontented frustration. 

Eliminating these sources is preventive medicine. But the 
state of world health requires also curative medicine. Inter- 
esting light is thrown on this aspect of the problem by Lin- 
coln's stand against conspiratorial agitation against the 
Union. He called on the power given in the American Con- 
stitution to suspend habeas corpus in times of serious threat to 
the country. He did so, and placed conspirators and agita- 
tors under indefinite arrest. And he did this without a qualm, 
as one would arrest the growth and spread of vermin. "Must 
I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I 
must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to 
desert?..." wrote Lincoln. "Nor am I able to appreciate 
the danger apprehended [by his correspondent 1 ] that the 
American people will by arrests during the rebellion lose the 
right of public discussion, the liberty of speech and the press, 
the law of evidence, trial by jury, and habeas corpus through- 
out the indefinite peaceful future which I trust lies before 
them, any more than I am able to believe that a man could 
contract so strong an appetite for emetics during temporary 
illness as to persist in feeding on them during the remainder 
of his healthful life." So Lincoln, and his words are truer 
than ever regarding the United States of America, and any 
democratic government wishing to rid itself of the Commu- 
nist parasites that seek to bore from within and destroy. 

On another occasion Lincoln summed up the very mean- 
ing of America, as "a practical demonstration of the truth 
of a proposition which had hitherto been considered at best 
1 Erastus Corning (June 12, 1863) 


no better than problematical - namely the capability of a 
people to govern themselves." This is the best summation 
for the free world that has ever been made. While the Com- 
munist dedication is to the proposition that the people are 
utterly /^capable of governing themselves through their 
freely elected representatives ; that they therefore must have 
whip-masters. The fate of the w r orld today depends on 
whether most of its people will finally prove that they will do 
more for an ideal than for a whip. 

We are again engaged in a great struggle, and against a far 
more vicious slavery than Lincoln ever imagined, though he 
clearly sketched its possibility in his Springfield speech of 
January 27, 1838. The principles and operations of freedom, 
and freedom openly challenged and forced to the issue, are 
imperishably stated in Lincoln's words - lived by and in his 
actions. Lincoln is the answer to a wolf-pack, wolf-leader 

Over the world today, and emanating from Communist 
USSR, stands the ominous shadow of Lenin. Also over the 
world, and emanating from the roots of Democratic Republic 
of the U.S.A., is stretched the giant, protective shadow of 
Lincoln, whose great heart still watches with us. When Lincoln 
becomes for us more than merely the picture on a five dollar 
banknote, then we are assured of that spiritual and ethical 
victory, which must first take place in us as individuals, in 
our daily lives, before any outward victory of any perma- 
nence or significance can or will have been gained. Two quo- 
tations conclude : 

We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand that has 
preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us,, 
and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that 
all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue 
of our own. 



A Communist must be prepared... to resort to all sorts of schemes 
and stratagems, employ illegitimate methods, conceal the truth... We 
repudiate all morality that is taken outside of human class concepts... 
Morality is [defined to be] that which is creating a new Communist so- 
ciety... The will of a class is at times best realized by a dictator... Reli- 
gion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression. 


It is Lincoln versus Lenin today. The choice is simple. Let 
us not be slow about it. Thus the 1952 editorial. 

The voices of the six million slain free Russian peasants of 
the 1930's, the thousands of Soviet-persecuted Socialists and 
Zionists, the countless dead and living dead of East Germany 
of 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Tibet in 1959 who bravely 
strove for their freedom, and were shamefully left to die in 
their own blood by the West, may help us to decide. The 
human race itself weighs in the balance : to fail morally now 
is tantamount to mankind's suicide. The choice is ours. 

May, 1959 C. A. Muses 



One of the official objectives of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial 
Commission, created by Congress to commemorate the 150 th 
Anniversary of Lincoln's birth, and one of the most impor- 
tant, is to "seek to emphasize the principles and ideals 
exemplified by Abraham Lincoln and their application to 
the present day." This impressive and worthwhile purpose is 
by no means an esay one to accomplish. 

What were Lincoln's principles and ideals ? There is no easy 
agreement, either popular or scholarly, on that aspect of 
Lincolniana. Lincoln is quoted by everyone who has any- 
thing to say in public, and Lincoln books are so numerous, 
and so uneven in quality, that "authority" can be found mak- 
ing him say almost anything anyone wants him to have said. 
But Lincoln's own words are the only true authority here. 

Before much can be done to emphasize Lincoln's princi- 
ples and ideals, we must know what they actually were. De- 
spite the size of the world's Lincoln bookshelf, no work exists 
dealing with this specific subject. He was primarily a man of 
action, not a philosopher. Principles and ideals interested him, 
mainly, not per se, but for their effect on people. 

Obviously, the place to find Lincoln's ideals is in his own 
writings. Until recently, however, it was not possible to dis- 
cover his real thoughts even there. For sixty years, thousands 
of readers thought they were reading Lincoln in Nicolay and 
Hay's Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. Actually, they 
read the editors' version of Lincoln, which was unbelievably 
inaccurate, as well as anything but complete. Not until 1953, 


when the Abraham Lincoln Association and Rutgers Univer- 
sity Press published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 
vols.), edited by Roy P. Easier, Marion Dolores Bonzi Pratt, 
and Lloyd A. Dunlap, could anyone not working in thousands 
of scattered documents read what Lincoln actually wrote. 1 

Armed with this accurate text, the editor read through 
The Collected Works, from end to end, marking passages bear- 
ing on Lincoln's ideals. The excerpts were then noted, check- 
ed, and categorized under their main topics. 

The category called "Human Interest" for lack of a better 
caption, was placed first because of its fascination. It makes a 
seductive beginning to the work. In case some reader might 
complain that the passages under that heading are not ideals 
at all, the writer will reply in advance that, strictly speaking, 
they are not. Rather, they show Lincoln applying his prin- 
ciples and ideals in practice, thus enhancing their impor- 
tance beyond that of the strictly intellectual. 

Originally conceived as an aid to official Commission 
speakers, and a part of the Commission's general school pro- 
gram, the concept of this selection grew and flourished until 
it became apparent that there is no foreseeable limit to its 
possibilities. Book form was the lasting solution. 


1 This monumental work of research went out of print in 1958, and is 
now being reprinted, in the Sesquicentennial Edition, by the History- 
Book Club, Stamford, Connecticut. 


One day in Peabody Hall at the University of Florida, a stu- 
dent inquired of a passing professor if a work exists on Lin- 
coln's philosophy which he might read. The professor could 
give him no help, as there was no such work in spite of the 
enormous number of books on the Lincoln bookshelves. That 
professor was the present writer ; and his student's unsatis- 
fied question remained with him like Socrates' gadfly. The 
conclusion grew that, provided there was material to work 
with, a study of Lincoln's philosophy was most in order. 

Congress then established the Lincoln Sesquicentennial 
Commission to commemorate the 150 th anniversary of Lin- 
coln's birth. Early in 1958 the Commission adopted the note- 
worthy official objective to "seek to emphazise the prin- 
ciples and ideals exemplified by Abraham Lincoln and their 
application to the present day." Thus two separate drives 
converged to motivate a search for Lincoln's philosophy. 

As Lincoln was essentially a man of action, political and 
social, and not a philosopher, the quest did not at first look 
promising. Ideas and principles interested him less for their 
own sake than for their relation to people. Philosophy in 
Lincoln's time in America was not a separate discipline, but 
a branch of science. Learning and thought were respected not 
so much for their own sake, but rather for what they could 
accomplish in practice. Besides, Lincoln had little time for 
long stretches of abstract thought. He was busy making a 
living at law and pursuing a growing reputation in politics 
and statemanship. 


According to William Herndon, who saw Lincoln at closer 
range for more years than anyone else except Mrs. Lincoln, 
Lincoln was a deep thinker much more than a broad reader. 
His reading was mostly on public affairs. Here he thought 
deeply and reached conclusions which satisfied him, and 
eventually influenced history. Lincoln never bought a philo- 
sophy book. But Herndon did. He brought to the office 
works by Spencer, Darwin, Feuerbach, and Lincoln read 
them "by snatches." He thoroughly read The Vestiges of Crea- 
tion^ and became a believer in higher evolution. "Mr. Lincoln 
believed in laws that imperiously ruled both matter and 
mind," wrote Herndon. "With him there could be no mira- 
cles outside of law ; he held that the universe was a grand mys- 
tery and a miracle. Nothing to him was lawless, everything 
being governed by law. There were no accidents in his phi- 
losophy. Every event had its cause. The past to him was the 
cause of the present and the present including the past will be 
the cause of the grand future and all are one, links in the 
endless chain, stretching from the infinite to the finite. Every- 
thing to him was the result of the forces of Nature, playing 
on matter and mind from the beginning of time ; and will to 
the end of it play on matter and mind, giving the world other, 
further, and grander results." 

That, thought Herndon, was as far as Lincoln would go 
into the realm of philosophical thought. "Time and space, 
noumena or phenomena, experienced ideas or universal and 
inherent and necessary ideas, the attributes of being, psy- 
chology or metaphysics - these were to him trash. He 
discovered through experience that his mind, the mind of 
all men, had limitations attached or placed on it and hence he 
economized his forces and his time by applying his powers 
and his time in the field of the practical. In this field he 
thought, wrought, and acted." 


In that field he is quoted more extensively perhaps than 
any other man. In America, he is cited in all areas by every- 
one who has anything to say in public. Yet precisely what 
were Lincoln's principles, thoughts, and ideas? There is 
no simple agreement on that score, either popular or scho- 
larly. But basic points remain fixed. 

For the purpose of finding them The Collected Writings 
of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols.), edited by Roy P. Easier, Ma- 
rion Dolores Bonzi Pratt, and Lloyd A. Dunlap, the only 
extensive and textually accurate source of Lincoln's actual 
words, were read through from beginning to end. Passa- 
ges bearing on his thought were marked, checked with 
the originals, sifted, and categorized under the principal 
topics which emerged, to make them more meaningful and 
clear than would have been the case if presented in chrono- 
logical order. Ten categories emerged, despite some inevi- 
table overlapping. 

One of these ten needs special comment. Some of the most 
striking passages, which cried out for inclusion, were not pri- 
marily ideological. Rather they demonstrated, not strictly 
what Lincoln's thought was, but the way he applied and used 
it in dealing with people, a matter of paramount importance 
in a politician and statesman. Called "Human Interest" for 
want of a better name, these selections bring him to life as a 
living man in amazing fashion. What biographer, for example, 
limned Lincoln as vividly as he did when he described him- 
self as "a long black fellow" in a letter to a friend? 

A word of explanation about the use of brackets. If the 
extant text gave a wrong date, or accidentally left out a 
letter, word or punctuation mark, it is supplied in brackets, 
following Basler, Pratt, und Dunlap. Brackets are also used 
to enclose remarks from the crowd when Lincoln made 
a speech. 


Investigating Lincoln's philosophy has been a richly re- 
warding experience. These excerpts reveal a new Lincoln, 
the man of ideas. They shine forth clearly, unobstructed by 
a thicket of events. The search was replete with surprises. 
Anyone who follows Lincoln's thought will find a Lincoln 
come alive, and will savor some of the most majestic prose, 
and some of the funniest, ever assembled together in a 
comparable space. 

W. E. B. 

Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission 
National Archives Building 
Washington, D. C. 
May 12, 1959 



Lincoln Describes Himself 

Dear Hewett : 

Your Whig representative from Mississippi, P. W. Tomp- 
kins, has just shown me a letter of yours to him. I am jealous 
because you did not write to me. Perhaps you have forgotten 
me. Dont you remember a long black fellow who rode on 
horseback with you from Tremont to Springfield nearly ten 
years ago, swiming your horses over the Mackinaw on the 
trip ? Well, I am that same one fellow yet. l 

On How a Young Man May Rise 
The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every 
way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder 
him. Allow me to assure you, that suspicion and jealousy 
never did help any man in any situation. There may some- 
times be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down ; 
and they will succed too, if he allows his mind to be diverted 
from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. 
Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every per- 
son you have ever known to fall into it. 2 

On Himself as Literary Detective 
Fred Schooler, - Your letter of the 21 st was received two or 
three days ago, and for which please accept my thanks, both 
for your courtesy and the encouraging news in it. The news 
we are receiving here now from all parts is on the look-up. 
We have had several letters from Ohio to-day, all encoura- 
ging.... The tone of the letters - free from despondency - 

1 To Josephus Hewett, 2/13/48, I, 450. 

2 To W.H.Herndon, 7/10/48, I, 497. 


full of hope - is what particularly encourages me. If a man is 
scared when he writes, I think I can detect it, when I see 
what he writes. l 

How Lincoln Appeared to an Audience of Strangers 
Mr. Kellogg then introduced to the meeting the Hon. Abram 
Lincoln, Whig member of Congress from Illinois, a repre- 
sentative of free soil. 

Mr. Lincoln has a very tall and thin figure, with an intellec- 
tual face, showing a searching mind, and a cool judgment. 
He spoke in a clear and cool, and very eloquent manner, for 
an hour and a half, carrying the audience with him in his 
able arguments and brilliant illustrations - only interrupted 
by warm and frequent applause. He began by expressing a 
real feeling of modesty in addressing an audience "this side 
of the mountains," a part of the country where, in the opin- 
ion of the people of his section, everybody was supposed 
to be instructed and wise. But he had devoted his attention 
to the question of the coming Presidential election, and was 
not unwilling to exchange with all whom he might meet the 
ideas to which he had arrived. 2 


Dear Sir : I have just received yours of the 16th, with check 
on Flagg & Savage for twenty-five dollars. You must think 

1 am a high-priced man. You are too liberal with your 

Fifteen dollars is enough for the job. I send you a receipt 
for fifteen dollars, and return to you a ten-dollar bill. Yours 
truly, A. Lincoln. 3 

1 To W.Schouler, 8/28/48, I, 518. 

2 Speech at Worcester, Mass., 9/12/48, II, 1-2. 

3 To George P.Floyd, 2/21/56, II, 332-333- 


Lincolnian Wit, at Douglas's Expense 
There is one other point. Judge Douglas has a very affection- 
ate leaning towards the Americans and old Whigs. Last 
evening, in a sort of weeping tone, he described to us a death 
bed scene. He had been called to the side of Mr. Clay, in his 
last moments, in order that the genius of "popular sover- 
eignty" might duly descend from the dying man and settle 
upon him, the living and most worthy successor. He could 
do no less than promise that he would devote the remainder 
of his life to "popular sovereignty" ; and then the great 
statesman departs in peace. By this part of the "plan of the 
campaign," the Judge has evidently promised himself that 
tears shall be drawn down the cheeks of all old Whigs, as 
large as half grown apples. 

Mr. Webster, too, was mentioned ; but it did not quite 
come to a death-bed scene, as to him. It would be amusing, 
if it were not disgusting, to see how quick these compromise- 
breakers administer on the political effects of their dead ad- 
versaries, trumping up claims never before heard of, and di- 
viding the assets among themselves. If I should be found 
dead tomorrow morning, nothing but my insignificance could 
prevent a speech being made on my authority, before the 
end of next week. It so happens that in that "popular sover- 
eignty" with which Mr. Clay was identified, the Missouri 
Compromise was expressly reserved ; and it was a little sin- 
gular if Mr. Clay cast his mantle upon Judge Douglas on 
purpose to have that compromise repealed. 1 


I am informed, that my distinguished friend yesterday be- 
came a little excited, nervous perhaps, [laughter] and he said 
something about fighting, as though referring to a pugilistic 

1 Speech at Springfield, III., 7/17/58, II, 519. 



encounter between him and myself. Did anybody in this 
audience hear him use such language ? [Cries of yes.] I am 
informed, further, that somebody in his audience, rather more 
excited, or nervous, than himself, took off his coat, and offer- 
ed to take the job off Judge Douglas' hands, and fight Lin- 
coln himself. Did anybody here witness that warlike proceed- 
ing? [Laughter, and cries of yes.] Well, I merely desire to 
say that I shall fight neither Judge Douglas nor his second. 
[Great laughter.] I shall not do this for two reasons, which I 
will now explain. In the first place, a fight would prove no- 
thing which is in issue in this contest. It might establish that 
Judge Douglas is a more muscular man than myself, or it 
might demonstrate that I am a more muscular man than Judge 
Douglas. But this question is not referred to in the Cincin- 
nati platform, nor in either of the Springfield platforms. 
[Great laughter]. Neither result could prove him right or me 
wrong. And so of the gentleman who volunteered to do his 
fighting for him. If my fighting Judge Douglas would not 
prove anything, it would certainly prove nothing for me to 
fight his bottle-holder. [Continued laughter.] 

My second reason for not having a personal encounter 
with the Judge is, that I don't believe he wants it himself. 
[Laughter.] He and I are about the best friends in the world, 
and when we get together he would no more think of fighting 
me than of fighting his wife. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, 
when the Judge talked about fighting, he was not giving 
vent to any ill-feeling of his own, but merely trying to excite 
-well, enthusiasm against me on the part of his audience. 
And as I find he was tolerably successful, we will call it 
quits. [Cheers and laughter.] 1 

1 Speech at Havana, 111., 8/14/58, II, 541-542. 


Douglas's "Biography" of Lincoln 

I desire to know whether Mr. Lincoln's principles will bear 
transplanting from Ottawa to Jonesboro ? I put these ques- 
tions to him to-day distinctly, and ask an answer. I have a 
right to an answer, for I quote from the platform of the 
Republican party, made by himself and others at the time 
that party was formed, and the bargain made by Lincoln 
to dissolve and kill the old Whig party, and transfer its 
members, bound hand and foot, to the Abolition party, 
under the direction of Giddings and Fred Douglass. In 
the remarks I have made on this platform, and the posi- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln upon it, I mean nothing personally 
disrespectful or unkind to that gentleman. I have known 
him for nearly twenty-five years. There were many points 
of sympathy between us when we first got acquainted. 
We were both comparatively boys, and both struggling 
with poverty in a strange land. I was a schoolteacher 
in the town of Winchester, and he a flourishing gro- 
cery-keeper in the town of Salem. He was more suc- 
cessful in his occupation than I was in mine, and hence 
more fortunate in this world's goods. 

Lincoln is one of those peculiar men who perform with 
admirable skill everything which they undertake. I made 
as good a schoolteacher as I could and when a cabinet 
maker I made a good bedstead and tables, although my 
old boss said I succeeded better with bureaus and secre- 
taries than anything else; but I believe that Lincoln was 
always more successful in business than I, for his business 
enabled him to get into the Legislature. I met him there, 
however, and had a sympathy with him, because of the 
up hill struggle we both had in life. He was then just 
as good at telling an anecdote as now. He could beat any 


of the boys wrestling, or running a foot race, in pitching 
quoits or tossing a copper, could ruin more liquor than all 
the boys of the town together, and the dignity and impartial- 
ity with which he presided at a horse race or fist fight, 
excited the admiration and won the praise of everybody that 
was present and participated. I sympathised with him, 
because he was struggling with difficulties and so was I. 
Mr. Lincoln served with me in the Legislature in 1836, when 
we both retired, and he subsided, or became submerged, and 
he was lost sight of as a public man for some years. In 1846, 
when Wilmot introduced his celebrated proviso, and the 
Abolition tornado swept over the country, Lincoln again 
turned up as a member of Congress from the Sangamon dis- 
trict. I was then in the Senate of the United States, and was 
glad to welcome my old friend and companion. Whilst in 
Congress, he distinguished himself by his opposition to the 
Mexican war, taking the side of the common enemy against 
his own country; and when he returned home he found 
that the indignation of the people followed him everywhere, 
and he was again submerged or obliged to retire into pri- 
vate life, forgotten by his former friends. He came up 
again in 1854, just in time to make this Abolition or Black 
Republican platform in company with Giddings, Lovejoy, 
Chase, and Fred Douglass for the Republican party to stand 
upon. 1 

On Douglas's Veracity 
Now my fellow citizens, I will detain you only a little while 
longer. My time is very nearly out. I find a report of a speech 
made by Judge Douglas at Joliet, since we last met at Free- 
port - published I believe in the Missouri Republican - on the 
9 th of this month, in which Judge Douglas says : 

1 Debate at Ottawa, 8/21/58, III, 5-6. 


"You know at Ottawa, I read this platform and asked him 
if he concurred in each and all of the principles set forth in it. 
He would not answer these questions. At last I said frankly, 
I wish you to answer them, because when I get them up here 
where the color of your principles is a little darker than in 
Egypt, I intend to trot you down to Jonesboro. The very 
notice that I was going to take him down to Egypt made 
him tremble in the knees so that he had to be carried from 
the platform. He laid up seven days, and in the meantime 
held a consultation with his political physicians, they had 
Lovejoy and Farnsworth and all the leaders of the Abolition 
party, they consulted it all over, and at last Lincoln came to 
the conclusion that he would answer, so he came up to Free- 
port last Friday." 

Now that statement altogether furnishes a subject for phi- 
losophical contemplation. [Laughter.] I have been treating 
it in that way, and I have really come to the conclusion that I 
can explain it in no other way than by believing the Judge 
is crazy. [Renewed laughter.] If he was in his right mind, I 
cannot conceive how he would have risked disgusting the 
four or five thousand of his own friends who stood there, and 
knew, as to my having been carried from the platform, that 
there was not a word of truth in it. 

Judge Douglas - Didn't they carry you off? 

Mr. Lincoln - There ; that question illustrates the charac- 
ter of this man Douglas, exactly. He smiles now and says, 
"Didn't they carry you off?" But he says then, "He had to be 
carried off" ; and he said it to convince the country that he 
had so completely broken me down by his speech that I had 
to be carried away. Now he seeks to dodge it, and asks, 
"Didn't they carry you off?" Yes, they did. But, Judge Doug- 
las , why didn't you tell the truth? [Great laughter and cheers.] 
I would like to know why you didn't tell the truth about it. 


[Continued laughter.] And then again, "He laid up seven 
days." He puts this in print for the people of the country to 
read as a serious document. I think if he had been in his sober 
senses he would not have risked that barefacedness in the 
presence of thousands of his own friends, who knew that I 
made speeches within six of the seven days at Henry, Mar- 
shall County; Augusta, Hancock County, and Macomb, 
McDonough County, including all the necessary travel to 
meet him again at Freeport at the end of the six days. Now, 
I say, there is no charitable way to look at that statement, 
except to conclude that he is actually crazy. [Laughter.] 
There is another thing in that statement that alarmed me 
very greatly as he states it, that he was going to "trot me 
down to Egypt." Thereby he would have you to infer that 
I would not come to Egypt unless he forced me - that I could 
not be got here, unless he, giant-like, had hauled me down 
here. [Laughter.] That statement he makes, too, in the teeth 
of the knowledge that I had made the stipulation to come 
down here, and that he himself had been very reluctant to enter 
into the stipulation. [Cheers and laughter.] More than all this, 
Judge Douglas, when he made that statement must have been 
crazy, and wholly out of his sober senses, or else he would 
have known that he got me down here - that promise - that 
windy promise - of his powers to annihilate me, wouldn't 
amount to anything. Now, how little do I look like being 
carried away trembling ? Let the judge go on, and after he 
is done with his half hour, I want you all, if I can't go home 
myself, to let me stay and rot here ; and if anything happens 
to the Judge, if I cannot carry him to the hotel and put him 
to bed, let me stay here and rot. [Great laughter.] I say, then, 
there is something extraordinary in this statement? I ask 
you if you know any other living man who would make such 
a statement? [Cries of "No," "no," "Yes," "yes."] I will ask 


my friend Casey, over there, if he would do such a thing? 
[Casey dropped his head and said nothing.] Would he send 
that out and have his men take it as the truth ? Did the Judge 
talk of trotting me down to Egypt to scare me to death ? Why, 
I know this people better than he does. I was reared just a 
little east of here. I am a part of this people. But the Judge was 
raised further north, and perhaps he has some horrid idea of 
what this people might be induced to do. [Roars of laughter 
and cheers.] But really I have talked about this matter per- 
haps longer than I ought, for it is no great thing, and yet the 
smallest are often the most difficult things to deal with. The 
Judge has set about seriously trying to make the impression 
that when we meet at different places I am literally in his 
clutches - that I am a poor, helpless, decrepit mouse, and 
that I can do nothing at all. This is one of the ways he has 
taken to create that impression. I don't know any other way 
to meet it, except this. I don't want to quarrel with him - to 
call him a liar - but when I come square up to him I don't 
know what else to call him, if I must tell the truth out. 
[Cheers and laughter.] I want to be at peace and reserve all 
my fighting powers for necessary occasions. My time, now, 
is very nearly out, and I give up the trifle that is left to the 
Judge to let him set my knees trembling again, if he can. l 

On Whipping Rebels 
I thank you, Mr. Train, for your kindness in presenting me 
with this truly elegant and highly creditable specimen of the 
handiwork of the mechanics of your State of Massachusetts, 
and I beg of you to express my hearty thanks to the donors. 
It displays a perfection of workmanship which I really wish 
I had time to acknowledge in more fitting words, and I might 
then follow your idea that it is suggestive, for it is evidently 

1 Debate at Jonesboro, 9/15/58, III, 133-135. 


expected that a good deal of whipping is to be done. But, as we 
meet here socially, let us not think only of whipping rebels, 
or of those who seem to think only of whipping negroes, but 
of those pleasant days which it is to be hoped are in store for 
us, when, seated behind a good pair of horses, we can crack 
our whips and drive through a peaceful, happy and prosper- 
ous land. With this idea, gentlemen, I must leave you for 
my business duties. I 

The President Takes the Responsibility 
To the Senate and House of Representatives : 

The insurrection which is yet existing in the United States, 
and aims at the overthrow of the federal Constitution and the 
Union, was clandestinely prepared during the winter of i860 
and 1 86 1, and assumed an open organization in the form of 
a treasonable provisional government at Montgomery, in 
Alabama, on the 18 th day of February, 1861. On the 12 th 
day of April, 1861, the insurgents committed the flagrant act 
of civil war by the bombardment and capture of Fort Sum- 
ter, which cut off the hope of immediate conciliation. Imme- 
diately afterwards all the roads and avenues to this city were 
obstructed, and the capital was put into the condition of a 
siege. The mails in every direction were stopped, and the 
lines of telegraph cut off by the insurgents, and military and 
naval forces, which had been called out by the government 
for the defence of Washington, were prevented from reach- 
ing the city by organized and combined treasonable resis- 
tance in the State of Maryland. There was no adequate and 
effective organization for the public defence. Congress had 
indefinitely adjourned. There was no time to convene them. 
It became necessary for me to choose whether, using only the 
existing means, agencies, and processes which Congress had 

1 Speech to a Massachusetts Delegation, 3/13/62, V, 158. 


provided, I should let the government fall at once into ruin, 
or whether, availing myself of the broader powers conferred 
by the Constitution in cases of insurrection, I would make 
an effort to save it with all its blessings for the present age 
and for posterity. 

I thereupon summoned my constitutional advisers, the 
heads of all the departments, to meet on Sunday, the 20 th 
[2 1 st] day of April, 1 86 1 , at the office of the Navy Department, 
and then and there, with their unanimous concurrence, I 
directed that an armed revenue cutter should proceed to sea, 
to afford protection to the commercial marine, and espe- 
cially the California treasure ships then on their way to this 
coast. I also directed the commandant of the navy yard at 
Boston to purchase or charter and arm, as quickly as pos- 
sible, five steamships, for purposes of public defence. I direc- 
ted the commandant of the navy yard at Philadelphia to pur- 
chase, or charter and arm, an equal number for the same pur- 
pose. I directed the commandant at New York to purchase, 
or charter and arm, an equal number. Similar directions 
were given to Commodore DuPont, with a view to the open- 
ing of passages by water to and from the capital. I directed 
the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid and 
efficient services in the matter of his excellency Edwin D. 
Morgan, the governor of New York, or, in his absence, 
George D.Morgan, William M. Evarts, R.M.Blatchford, 
and Moses H. Grinnell, who were, by my directions, espe- 
cially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy to act for his 
department in that crisis, in matters pertaining to the for- 
warding of troops and supplies for the public defence. 

On the same occasion I directed that Governor Morgan 
and Alexander Cummings, of the city of New York, should 
be authorized by the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, to 
make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of 



troops and munitions of war, in aid and assistance of the of- 
ficers of the army of the United States, until communication 
by mails and telegraph should be completely re-established 
between the cities of Washington and New York. No security 
was required to be given by them, and either of them was 
authorized to act in case of inability to consult with the other. 

On the same occasion I authorized and directed the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to advance, without requiring security, 
two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix, 
George Opdyke, and Richard M. Blatchford, of New York, 
to be used by them in meeting such requisitions as should be 
directly consequent upon the military and naval measures 
necessary for the defence and support of the government, re- 
quiring them only to act without compensation, and report 
their transactions when duly called upon. 

The several departments of the government at that time 
contained so large a number of disloyal persons that it would 
have been impossible to provide safely, through official 
agents only, for the performance of the duties thus confided 
to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty, and 

The several orders issued upon these occurrences were 
transmitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous 
way to the seaboard cities, inland, across the States of Penn- 
sylvania and Ohio and the northern lakes. I believe that by 
these and other similar measures taken in that crisis, some of 
which were without any authority of law, the government 
was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a dollar of the 
public funds thus confided without authority of law to un- 
official persons was either lost or wasted, although appre- 
hensions of such misdirection occurred to me as objections 
to those extraordinary proceedings, and were necessarily 


I recall these transactions now because my attention has 
been directed to a resolution which was passed by the House 
of Representatives on the 30 th day of last month, which is in 
these words: "Resolved, That Simon Cameron, late Secre- 
tary of War, by investing Alexander Cummings with the 
control of large sums of the public money, and authority to 
purchase military supplies without restriction, without re- 
quiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance 
of his duties, when the services of competent public officers 
were available, and by involving the government in a vast 
number of contracts with persons not legitimately engaged 
in the business pertaining to the subject-matter of such con- 
tracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future delivery, 
has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, 
and deserves the censure of the House." 

Congress will see that I should be wanting equally in can- 
dor and in justice if I should leave the censure expressed in 
this resolution to rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Came- 
ron. The same sentiment is unanimously entertained by the 
heads of departments, who participated in the proceedings 
which the House of Representatives has censured. It is due 
to Mr. Cameron to say that, although he fully approved the 
proceedings, they were not moved nor suggested by himself, 
and that not only the President but all the other heads of de- 
partments were at least equally responsible with him for 
whatever error, wrong, or fault was committed in the prem- 
ises. I 

The President on his Troubles 
It was a relief to be assured that the deputation were not ap- 
plicants for office, for his chief trouble was from that class of 
persons. The next most troublesome subject was Slavery. 

1 To the Senate and House of Representatives, 5/26/62, V, 240-243. 



He agreed with the memorialists, that Slavery was wrong, but 
in regard to the ways and means of its removal, his views 
probably differed from theirs. The quotation in the memorial, 
from his Springfield speech, was incomplete. It should have 
embraced another sentence, in which he indicated his views 
as to the effect upon Slavery itself of the resistance to its 
extension. l 

On Presidential Travels 
When birds and animals are looked at through a fog they are 
seen to disadvantage, and so it might be with you if I were to 
attempt to tell you why I went to see Gen. Scott. I can 
only say that my visit to West Point did not have the impor- 
tance which has been attached to it; but it [concerned] 
matters that you understand quite as well as if I were to 
tell you all about them. Now, I can only remark that it had 
nothing whatever to do with making or unmaking any Gen- 
eral in the country. [Laughter and applause.] The Secre- 
tary of War, you know, holds a pretty tight rein on the Press, 
so that they shall not tell more than they ought to, and I'm 
afraid that if I blab too much he might draw a tight rein on 
me. 2 

Dr. Zacharie has operated on my feet with great success, and 
considerable addition to my comfort. 3 

On his Temper 
Gen. Schurz thinks I was a little cross in my late note to you. 
If I was, I ask pardon. If I do get up a little temper I have no 
sufficient time to keep it up. 4 

1 Remarks to a Delegation of Progressive Friends, 6/20/62, V, 278. 

2 Remarks at Jersey City, 6/24/62, V, 284. 

3 Testimonial for Isachar Zacharie, 9/22/62, V, 436. 

4 To Franz Sigel, 2/5/63, VI, 93. 


Literary Critic 

Months ago I should have acknowledged the receipt of your 
book, and accompanying kind note ; and I now have to beg 
your pardon for not having done so. 

For one of my age, I have seen very little of the drama. 
The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours here, 
last winter or spring. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay 
is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. 
Some of Shakespeare's plays I have never read ; while others 
I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional 
reader. Among the latter are Lear, Richard Third, Henry 
Eight, Hamlet, and especially Macbeth. I think nothing 
equals Macbeth. It is wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the 
profession, I think the soliloquy in Hamlet commencing "Q, 
my offence is rank" surpasses that commencing "To be, or 
not to be." But pardon this small attempt at criticism. I should 
like to hear you pronounce the opening speech of Richard 
the Third. Will you not soon visit Washington again? If you 
do, please call and let me make your personal acquaintance. 2 

On Ridicule 

Yours of Oct. 22 nd. is received, as also was, in due course, 
that of Oct. 3rd. I look forward with pleasure to the fulfill- 
ment of the promise made in the former. 

Give yourself no uneasiness on the subject mentioned in 
that of the 22 nd. 

My note to you I certainly did not expect to see in print ; 
yet I have not been much shocked by the newspaper com- 
ments upon it. Those comments constitute a fair specimen 
of what has occurred to me through life. I have endured a 
great deal of ridicule without much malice ; and have receiv- 

2 To James H. Hackett, 8/17/63, VI, 392-3. 


ed a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I 
am used to it. 1 

On Humane Justice 
A poor widow, by the name of Baird, has a son in the 
Army, that for some offence has been sentenced to serve a 
long time without pay, or at most, with very little pay. I do 
not like this punishment of withholding pay - it falls so very 
hard upon poor families. After he has been serving in this 
way for several months, at the tearful appeal of the poor 
Mother, I made a direction that he be allowed to enlist for 
a new term, on the same conditions as others. She now comes, 
and says she can not get it acted upon. Please do it. 2 

"God Bless the Women of America" 
Ladies and Gentlemen: I appear to say but a word. This ex- 
traordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon 
all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. 
For it has been said, all that a man hath will he give for his 
life ; and while all contribute of their substance the soldier 
puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country's 
cause. The highest merit, then is due to the soldier. [Cheers.] 

In this extraordinary war extraordinary developments have 
manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former 
wars; and amongst these manifestations nothing has been 
more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering 
soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in these 
fairs are the women of America. [Cheers.] 

I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy ; I 
have never studied the art of paying compliments to women ; 
but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and 
poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were 

1 To James H. Hackett, 1 1/2/63, VI, 558-559. 

2 To Edwin M. Stanton, 3/1/64, VII, 217. 


applied to the women of America, it would not do them ju- 
stice for their conduct during the war. I will close by saying 
God bless the women of America ! [Great applause.] 1 

Today I verbally told Colonel Worthington that I did not 
think him fit for a Colonel ; and now, upon his urgent request, 
I put it in writing. 2 

On Oratory When the Speaker Has Nothing to Say 
Fellow-Citizens: I attended the fair at Philadelphia to-day in 
the hope that possibly it might aid something in swelling the 
contributions for the benefit of the soldiers in the field, who 
are bearing the harder part of this great national struggle in 
which w r e are engaged. [Applause.] I thought I might do this 
without impropriety. It did not even occur to me that a kind 
demonstration like this would be made to me. [A voice - 
"You are worthy of it," and cheers.] I do not really think it is 
proper in my position for me to make a political speech ; and 
having said at the Fair what I thought w r as proper for me to 
say there in reference to that subject, and being more of a 
politician than anything else, and having exhausted that 
branch of the subject at the fair, and not being prepared to 
speak on the other, I am without anything to say. I have real- 
ly appeared before you now more for the purpose of seeing 
you [A voice : "Three cheers for Honest Old Abe !"] and allow- 
ing you to see me a little while, [laughter] and, to show to 
you that I am not wanting in due consideration and respect 
for you, when you make this kind demonstration in my honor. 
At the same time I must beg of you to excuse me from saying 
anything further. 3 

1 Remarks at Closing of Sanitary Fair, Washington, 3/18/64, VII, 253-254. 

2 Memorandum Concerning Thomas Worthington, 3/31/64, VII, 276. 

3 Speech at Philadelphia, 6/16/64, VII, 398. 


Advice to an Excited Mayor 
Yours of last night received. I have not a single soldier but 
whom is being disposed by the Military for the best protec- 
tion of all. By latest account the enemy is moving on Wash- 
ington. They can not fly to either place. Let us be vigilant 
but keep cool. I hope neither Baltimore or Washington will 
be sacked. 1 

On Industriousness 
I am always for the man who wishes to work ; and I shall 
be glad for this man to get suitable employment at Calvary 
Depot, or elsewhere. 2 

Condolence To a War Mother 
Dear Madam, - I have been shown in the files of the War 
Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massa- 
chusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died 
gloriously on the field of battle. 

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine 
which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss 
so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you 
the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Re- 
public they died to save. 

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish 
of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished mem- 
ory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must 
be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of 
Freedom. 3 

1 To Thomas Swann and Others, 7/10/64, VII, 437-438. 

2 Recommendation, 8/15/64, VII, 495. 

3 To Mrs. Lydia Bixby, 11/21/64, VIII, 116-117. 


To the People of Sangamon County 
fellow-citizens : Having become a candidate for the honor- 
able office of one of your representatives in the next General 
Assembly of this state, in accordance with an established 
custom, and the principles of true republicanism, it becomes 
my duty to make known to you - the people whom I propose 
to represent - my sentiments with regard to local affairs. 

Time and experience have verified to a demonstration, the 
public utility of internal improvements. That the poorest 
and most thinly populated countries would be greatly 
benefitted by the opening of good roads, and in the clearing 
of navigable streams within their limits, is what no person 
will deny. But yet it is folly to undertake works of this or any 
other kind, without first knowing that we are able to finish 
them - as half finished work generally proves to be labor lost. 
There cannot justly be any objection to having rail roads and 
canals, any more than to other good things, provided they 
cost nothing. The only objection is to paying for them ; and 
the objection to paying arises from the want of ability to pay. 

With respect to the county of Sangamon, some more easy 
means of communication than w r e now possess, for the pur- 
pose of facilitating the task of exporting the surplus products 
of its fertile soil, and importing necessary articles from 
abroad, are indispensably necessary.... 

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate 
any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it 
as the most important subject which we as a people can be 
engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate 
education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his 



own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate 
the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of 
vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing 
of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all 
being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a 
religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I 
desire to see the time when education, and by its means, 
morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become 
much more general than at present, and should be gratified 
to have it in my power to contribute something to the ad- 
vancement of any measure which might have a tendency to 
accelerate the happy period. 

With regard to existing laws, some alternations are thought 
to be necessary. Many respectable men have suggested that 
our estray laws - the law respecting the issuing of executions, 
the road law, and some others, are deficient in their present 
form and require alterations. But considering the great prob- 
ability that the framers of those laws were wiser than my- 
self, I should prefer [not] meddling with them, unless they 
were first attacked by others, in which case I should feel it 
both a privilege and a duty to take that stand, which in my 
view, might tend most to the advancement of justice. 

But, Fellow-Citizens, I shall conclude. Considering the 
great degreee of modesty which should always attend youth, 
it is probable I have already been more presuming than be- 
comes me. However, upon the subjects of which I have treat- 
ed, I have spoken as I thought. I may be wrong in regard to 
any or all of them ; but holding it a sound maxim, that it is 
better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so 
soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be 
ready to renounce them. 

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether 
it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so 


great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by 
rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall 
succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed. I 
am young and unknown to many of you. I was born and have 
ever remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no 
wealthy or popular relations to recommend me. My case is 
thrown exlusively upon the independent voters of this 
county, and if elected they will have conferred a favor upon 
me, for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to compen- 
sate. But if the good people in their wisdom shall see fit 
keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with 
disappointments to be very much chagrined. Your friend 
and fellow-citizen, 
New Salem, March 9, 1832. A. Lincoln. 1 

In your paper of last Saturday, I see a communication over 
the signature of "Many Voters," in which the candidates 
who are announced in the Journal, are called upon to "show 
their hands." Agreed. Here's mine ! 

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who 
assist in bearing its burthens. Consequently I go for admit- 
ting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear 
arms, (by no means excluding females). 

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon 
my constituents, as well those that oppose, as those that sup- 
port me. 

While acting as their representative, I shall be governed 
by their will, on all subjects upon which I have the means of 
knowing what their will is ; and upon all others, I shall do 
what my own judgment teaches me will best advance their 
interests. Whether elected or not, I go for distributing the 

1 To the People of Sangamon County, 3/9/32, I, 5-9. 



proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the several states, 
to enable our state, in common with others, to dig canals and 
construct railroads, without borrowing money and paying 
interest on it. 

If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for 
Hugh L. White for President. 1 

On President Polk 
As to the mode of terminating the war, and securing peace, 
the President is equally wandering and indefinite. First, it is 
to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the war in the 
vital parts of the enemies country ; and, after apparently talk- 
ing himself tired on this point, the President drops down 
into a half despairing tone, and tells us that "with a people 
distracted and divided by contending factions, and a govern- 
ment subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, 
the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory 
peace [.]" Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the 
Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, 
and trusting in our protection, to set up a government from 
which we can secure a satisfactory peace; telling us, that 
"this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace" But 
soon he falls into doubt of this too ; and then drops back on 
to the already half abandoned ground of "more vigorous 
prosecution. ["] All this shows that the President is, in no 
wise, satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one, 
and in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of 
it ; then seizes another, and goes thorugh the same process ; 
and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he 
snatches up the old one again, which he has some time before 
cast off. His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither 
and thither, like some tortured creature, on a burning sur- 

1 To Editor of the Sangamon Journal, 6/13/36, I, 48. 


face, finding no position, on which it can settle down, and be 
at ease. I 

On Patronage 
I am kept very busy here ; and one thing that perplexes me 
more than most anything else, are the cases of Whigs calling 
on me to get them appointments to places in the army, from 
the President. There are two great obstacles in the way which 
they do not seem to understand - first, the President has no 
such appointments to give - and secondly, if he had, he 
could hardly be expected to give them to Whigs, at the solici- 
tation of a Whig Member of Congress. 2 

On Presidential Powers 

Dear William : 

Your letter of the 29 th. Jany. was received last night. Being 
exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to submit some 
reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness that I know 
actuates you. Let me first state what I understand to be your 
position. It is, that if it shall become necessary, to repel inva- 
sion, the President may, without violation of the Constitu- 
tion, cross the line, and invade the territory of another 
country ; and that whether such necessity exists in any given 
case, the President is to be the sole judge. 

Before going further, consider well whether this is or is 
not your position. If it is, it is a position that neither the Pres- 
ident himself, nor any friend of him, so far as I know, has 
ever taken. Their only positions are first, that the soil was 
ours where hostilities commenced, and second, that whether 
it was rightfully ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the 
President, for that reason was bound to defend it, both of 
which are as clearly proved to be false in fact, as you can 

1 Speech in House of Representatives, 1/12/48, I, 441. 
» To J.R.Diller, 1/19/48, I, 444-445- 


prove that your house is not mine. That soil was not ours ; 
and Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it. But to 
return to your position: Allow the President to invade a 
neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary 
to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he 
may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose - 
and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if 
you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you 
have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should 
choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to pre- 
vent the British from invading us, how could you stop him ? 
You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invad- 
ing us" but he will say to you "be silent ; I see it, if you 

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making 
power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the 
following reasons. Kings had always been involving and im- 
poverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not 
always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our 
Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all 
Kingly oppressions ; and they resolved to so frame the Con- 
sitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing 
this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole 
matter, and places our President where kings have always 
stood. Write soon again. 1 

On Preserving Friendship Among Politicians 

Dear Gillespie : 

Your letter of the 9 th. of June in which you manifest some 
apprehension that your writing directly to Gen. Taylor had 
been regarded as improper, was received by me at Washing- 
ton. I feel I owe you an apology for not answering it sooner. 

1 To W.H.Herndon, 2/15/48, I, 45i~452- 


You committed no error in writing directly to the President ; 
half the letters, or nearly so, on the subject of appointments, 
are so addressed. The President assorts them and sends them 
to the departments to which they belong respectively. Wheth- 
er he reads them first, or only so far as to ascertain what 
subject they are on, I have not learned. 

Mr. Edwards is angry with me ; and, in which, he is 
wronging me very much. He wrote a letter against me & in 
favor of Butterfield, which was filed in the Department. 
Ever since I discovered this, I have had a conflict of feeling, 
whether to write him or not ; and, so far, I have remained 
silent. If he knew of your letters to me of the 9 th. of May, 
and to the President of the 23 rd. I suspect he would be angry 
with you too. Both those letters would help defend me with 
him; but I will not hazzard your interest by letting him 
know of them. To avoid that, I write you a separate letter 
which I wish you would show him when it may be convenient. 

You will please accept my sincere thanks for the very 
flattering terms in which you speak of me in your letter to the 
President. I withdrew the papers on file in my behalf, by 
which means your letter is now in my possession. 1 

On Military Candidates 
I suppose I can not reasonably hope to convince you that we 
have any principles. The most I can except, is to assure you 
that we think we have, and are quite contented with them. 
The other day, one of the gentlemen from Georgia (Mr. 
Iverson) an eloquent man, and a man of learning, so far as I 
could judge, not being learned, myself, came down upon us 
astonishingly. He spoke in what the Baltimore American 
calls the "scathing and withering style." At the end of his 
second severe flash, I was struck blind, and found myself 

1 To Joseph Gillespie, 7/13/49, II, 57- 


feeling with my fingers for an assurance of my continued phys- 
ical existence. A little of the bone was left, and I gradually 
revived. He eulogised Mr. Clay in high and beautiful terms, 
and then declared that we had deserted all our principles, 
and had turned Henry Clay out, like an old horse to root. 
This is terribly severe. It can not be answered by argument ; 
at least, I can not so answer it. I merely wish to ask the gen- 
tlemen if the Whigs are the only party he can think of, who 
sometimes turn old horses out to root. Is not a certain Mar- 
tin Van Buren, an old horse which your own party have turn- 
ed out to root ? and is he not rooting a little to your discom- 
fort about now ? But in not nominating Mr. Clay, we deserted 
our principles, you say. Ah ! in what? Tell us, ye men of prin- 
ciples, what principle we violated. We say you did violate 
principle in discarding Van Buren, and we can tell you how. 
You violated the primary, the cardinal, the one great living 
principle of all Democratic representative government - the 
principle, that the representative is bound to carry out the 
known will of his constituents. A large majority of the Bal- 
timore Convention of 1844, were, by their constituents, in- 
structed to procure Van Buren's nomination if they could. 
In violation, in utter, glaring contempt of this, you rejected 
him - rejected him, as the gentleman from New- York (Mr. 
Birdsall) the other day, expressly admitted, for availability - 
that same "General availability" which you charge upon us, 
and daily chew over here, as something exceedingly odious 
and umprincipled. But the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Iverson) gave us a second speech yesterday, all well consid- 
ered and put down in writing, in which Van Buren was 
scathed and withered a "few" for his present position and 
movements. I can not remember the gentleman's precise 
language ; but I do remember he put Van Buren down, down, 
till he got him where he was finally to "stink" and "rot." 


Mr. Speaker, it is no business, or inclination of mine, to 
defend Martin Van Buren. In the war of extermination now 
waging between him and his old admirers, I say, devil take 
the hindmost - and the foremost. But there is no mistaking 
the origin of the breach ; and if the curse of "stinking" and 
"rotting" is to fall on the first and greatest violators of prin- 
ciple in the matter, I disinterestedly suggest, that the gentle- 
man from Georgia, and his present co-workers, are bound to 
take it upon themselves. 

But the gentleman from Georgia further says we have de- 
serted all our principles, and taken shelter under Gen. Tay- 
lor's military coat-tail ; and he seems to think this is exceed- 
ingly degrading. Well, as his faith is, so be it unto him. But 
can he remember no other military coat tail under which a 
certain other party have been sheltering for near a quarter of 
a century? Has he no acquaintance with the ample military 
coat tail of Gen. Jackson? Does he not know that his own 
party have run the five last Presidential races under that 
coat-tail ? and that they are now running the sixth, under the 
same cover ? Yes sir, that coat tail was used, not only for Gen. 
Jackson himself; but has been clung to, with the gripe of 
death, by every democratic candidate since. You have never 
ventured, and dare not now venture, from under it. Your 
campaign papers have constantly been "Old Hickories" 
with rude likenesses of the old general upon them ; hickory 
poles, and hickory brooms, your never-ending emblems; 
Mr. Polk himself was "Young Hickory" "Little Hickory" or 
something so ; and even now, your campaign paper here, is 
proclaiming that Cass and Butler are of the true "Hickory 
stripe." No sir, you dare not give it up. 

Like a horde of hungry ticks you have stuck to the tail of 
the Hermitage lion to the end of his life ; and you are still 
sticking to it, and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it, 


after he is dead. A fellow once advertised that he had made 
a discovery by which he could make a new man out of an old 
one, and have enough of the stuff left to make a little yellow 
dog. Just such a discovery has Gen. Jackson's popularity 
been to you. You not only twice made President of him out 
of it, but you have had enough of the stuff left, to make Pres- 
idents of several comparatively small men since; and it is 
your chief reliance now to make still another. 

Mr. Speaker, old horses, and military coat-tails, or tails of 
any sort, are not figures of speech, such as I would be the 
first to introduce into discussions here ; but as the gentleman 
from Georgia has thought fit to introduce them, he, and you, 
are welcome to all you have made, or can make, by them. If 
you have any more old horses, trot them out ; any more tails, 
just cock them and come at us. 

I repeat, I would not introduce this mode of discussion 
here ; but I wish gentlemen on the other side to understand, 
that the use of degrading figures is a game at which they may 
not find themselves able to take all the winnings. ["We give 
it up"]. Aye, you give it up, and well you may ; but for a very 
different reason from that which you would have us under- 
stand. The point - the power to hurt - of all figures, consists 
in the truthfulness of their application ; and, understanding 
this, you may well give it up. They are weapons which hit 
you, but miss us. 

But in my hurry I was very near closing on the subject of 
military tails before I was done with it. There is one entire 
article of the sort I have not discussed yet ; I mean the mili- 
tary tail you democrats are now engaged in dovetailing onto 
the great Michigander. Yes sir, all his biographers (and they 
are legion) have him in hand, tying him to a military tail, like 
so many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans. 
True, the material they have is very limited ; but they drive 


at it, might and main. He Evaded Canada without resistance, 
and he Evaded it without pursuit. As he did both under 
orders, I suppose there was, to him, neither credit or discredit 
in them ; but they [are made to] constitute a large part of the 
tail. He was not at Hull's surrender, but he was close by; he 
was volunteer aid to Gen. Harrison on the day of the battle 
of the Thames ; and, as you said in 1840, Harrison was pick- 
ing huckleberries two miles off while the battle was fought, 
I suppose it is a just conclusion with you, to say Cass was 
aiding Harrison to pick huckleberries. This is about all, ex- 
cept the mooted question of the broken sword. Some authors 
say he broke it, some say he threw it away, and some others, 
who ought to know, say nothing about it. Perhaps it would 
be fair historical compromise to say, if he did not break it, 
he didn't do anything else with it. 

By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military 
hero ? Yes sir ; in the days of the Black Hawk war, I fought, 
bled, and came away. Speaking of Gen. Cass' career, re- 
minds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I 
was about as near it, as Cass was to Hulls surrender, and, 
like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite 
certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break ; 
but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass 
broke his sword the idea is, he broke it in de[s]peration ; I 
bent the musket by accident. If Gen. Cass went in advance 
of me in picking huckleberries, I guess I surpassed him in 
charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting 
indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many 
bloody struggles with the musquetoes ; and, although I never 
fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very 
hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff what- 
ever our democratic friends may suppose there is of black 
cockade federalism about me, and thereupon, they shall take 


me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they 
shall not make fun of me, as they have of Gen. Cass, by at- 
tempting to write me into a military hero. 1 

On Post-Election Unity 
Friends and Fellow-Citizens: - Please excuse me, on this 
occasion, from making a speech. I thank you for the kind- 
ness and compliment of this call. I thank you, in common 
with all others, who have thought fit, by their votes, to in- 
dorse the Republican cause. I rejoice with you in the success 
which has, so far, attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicing 
let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards 
any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us at 
all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of 
a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds 
of fraternal feeling. 2 

On People and Politicians 
My fellow-countrymen. You call upon me for a speech ; I 
have none to give to you, and have not sufficient time to de- 
vote to it if I had. I suppose you are all Union men here, 
[Cheers and cries of "Right"] and I suppose that you are in 
favor of doing full justice to all, whether on that side of the 
river (pointing to the Kentucky shore), or on your own. 
[Loud cheering and cries of "We are."] If the politicians and 
leaders of parties were as true as the people, there would be 
little fear that the peace of the country would be disturbed. 
I have been selected to fill an important office for a brief pe- 
riod, and am now, in your eyes, invested with an influence 
which will soon pass away; but should my administration 
prove to be a very wicked one, or what is more probable, a 

1 Speech in House of Representatives, 7/27/48, I, 507-510. 

2 Remarks at Springfield, 111., 11/20/60, IV, 142-143. 


very foolish one, if you, the people, are but true to yourselves 
and to the Constitution, there is but little harm I can do, 
thank God! 1 

On Political Appeasement 
No man can be elected President without some opponents, 
as well as supporters ; and if when elected, he can not be in- 
stalled, till he first appeases his enemies, by breaking his 
pledges, and betraying his friends, this government, and all 
popular government, is already at an end. Demands for such 
surrender, once recognized, and yielded to, are without limit, 
as to nature, extent, or repetition. They break the only bond 
of faith between public, and public servant ; and they dis- 
tinctly set the minority over the majority. Such demands 
acquiesced in, would not merely be the ruin of a man, or a 
party ; but as a precendent they would ruin the government 

I do not deny the possibility that the people may err in an 
election ; but if they do, the true [remedy] is in the next elec- 
tion, and not in the treachery of the person elected. 2 

On Changing Horses 
Gentlemen : I can only say, in response to the kind remarks 
of your chairman, as I suppose, that I am very grateful for 
the renewed confidence which has been accorded to me, both 
by the convention and by the National League. I am not in- 
sensible at all to the personal compliment there is in this ; 
yet I do not allow myself to believe that any but a small por- 
tion of it is to be appropriated as a personal compliment. The 
convention and the nation, I am assured, are alike animated 
by a higher view of the interests of the country for the pres- 
ent and the great future, and that part I am entitled to 

1 Remarks at Lawrenceburg, Ind., 2/12/61, IV, 197. 

2 Fragment of Speech Intended for Kentuckians, [2/12/61], IV, 200. 


appropriate as a compliment is only that part which I may 
lay hold of as being the opinion of the convention and of the 
League, that I am not entirely unworthy to be intrusted with 
the place I have occupied for the last three years. I have not 
permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best 
man in the country ; but I am reminded, in this connection, 
of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a com- 
panion once that "it was not best to swap horses when cros- 
sing streams." 1 

On Personal Triumph 
Friends and Fellow-Citizens : Even before I had been inform- 
ed by you that this compliment was paid me by loyal citi- 
zens of Pennsylvania friendly to me, I had inferred that you 
were of that portion of my countrymen who think that the 
best interests of the nation are to be subserved by the support 
of the present Administration. I do not pretend to say that 
you who think so embrace all the patriotism and loyalty of 
the country. But I do believe, and I trust, without personal 
interest, that the welfare of the country does require that 
such support and indorsement be given. I earnestly believe 
that the consequences of this day's work, if it be as you assure 
me and as now seems probable, will be to the lasting advan- 
tage, if not to the very salvation, of the country. I cannot at 
this hour say what has been the result of the election ; but, 
whatever it may be, I have no desire to modify this opinion 
- that all who have labored to-day in behalf of the Union 
organization, have wrought for the best interests of their 
country and the world, not only for the present, but for all 
future ages. I am thankful to God for this approval of the 
people. But while deeply grateful for this mark of their con- 

1 Reply to Delegation from the National Union League, 6/9/64, VII, 


fidence in me, if I know my heart, my gratitude is free from 
any taint of personal triumph. I do not impugn the motives 
of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph 
over any one ; but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evi- 
dence of the people's resolution to stand by free government 
and the rights of humanity. 1 

On Elections in War-Time 
It has long been a grave question whether any government, 
not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong 
enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies. 

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic 
to a severe test ; and a presidential election occuring in regu- 
lar course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. 
If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their 
strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, 
and partially paralized, by a political war among themselves ? 

But the election was a necessity. 

We can not have free government without elections ; and if 
the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national 
election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and 
ruined us. The strife of the election is but human nature 
practically applied to the facts of the case. What has oc- 
curred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human 
nature will not change. In any future great national trial, 
compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and 
as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, 
therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn 
wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. 

But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable 
strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people's 
government can sustain an national election, in the midst of 

1 Response to a Serenade, 1 1/8/64, VIII, 96. 


a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the 
world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, 
and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among can- 
didates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the 
Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the 
people's votes. It shows also... that we have more men now, 
than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place ; 
but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold. 

But the rebellion continues ; and now that the election is 
over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a 
common effort, to save our common country? For my own 
part I have striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any ob- 
stacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not wil- 
lingly planted a thorn in any man's bosom. 

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a 
re-election ; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God 
for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as 
I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfac- 
tion that any other man may be disappointed or pained by 
the result. 

May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join 
with me, in this same spirit towards those who have ? 

And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for 
our brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful 
commanders. 1 

1 Response to a Serenade, 0/10/64, VIII, 100-xoi, 


Lincoln's 1837 Protest 
Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having pas- 
sed both branches of the General Assembly at its present 
session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage 
of the same. 

They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on 
both injustice and bad policy ; but that the promulgation of 
abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than to abate its 

They believe that the Congress of the United States has 
no power under the constitution, to interfere with the insti- 
tution of slavery in the different States. 

They believe that the Congress of the United States has 
the power, under the constitution, to abolish slavery in the 
District of Columbia ; but that that power ought not to be 
exercised unless at the request of the people of said District. 

The difference between these opinions and those contain- 
ed in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this 
protest. Dan Stone 

A. Lincoln 1 
On Slavery 
If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, 
enslave B. - why may not B. snatch the same argument, and 
prove equally, that he may enslave A ? - 

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color , then; the 
lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. 
By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, 
with a fairer skin than your own. 

1 Protest on Slavery, 3/3/37, I, 74~75- 


You do not mean color exactly ? - You mean the whites are 
intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have 
the right to enslave them ? Take care again. By this rule, you 
are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect 
superior to your own. 

But, you say, it is a question of interest; and, if you can 
make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. 
Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right 
to enslave you. 1 

On Popular Sovereignty and Slavery 
The sacred right of self-government, rightly understood, no 
one appreciated more than himself. But the Nebraska meas- 
ure, so far from carrying out that right, was the grossest vio- 
lation of it. The principle that men or States have the right 
of regulating their own affairs, is morally right and politically 
wise. Individuals held the sacred right to regulate their own 
family affairs ; communities might arrange their own internal 
matter to suit themselves ; States might make their own stat- 
utes, subject only to the Constitution of the whole country; 
- no one disagreed with this doctrine. It had, however, no 
application to the question at present at issue, namely wheth- 
er slavery, a moral, social and political evil, should or 
should not exist in territory owned by the Government, over 
which the Government had control, and which looked to the 
Government for protection - unless it be true that a negro is 
not a man ; if not, then it is no business of ours whether or not 
he is enslaved upon soil which belongs to us, any more than 
it is our business to trouble ourselves about the oyster-trade, 
cranberry-trade, or any other legitimate traffic carried on by 
the people in territory owned by the Government. If we 
admit that a negro is not a man, then it is right for the Gov- 

1 Fragment, 7/1/54?, II, 222-223. 


ernment to own him and trade in the race, and it is right to 
allow the South to take their peculiar institution with them 
and plant it upon the virgin soil of Kansas and Nebraska. If 
the negro is not a man, it is consistent to apply the sacred 
right of popular sovereignty to the question as to whether the 
people of the territories shall or shall not have slavery; but if 
the negro, upon soil where slavery is not legalized by law and 
sanctioned by custom, is a man, then there is not even the 
shadow of popular sovereignty in allowing the first settlers 
upon such soil to decide whether it shall be right in all future 
time to hold men in bondage there. 1 

On Slavery and Property Rights 
It is said that the slaveholder has the same [political] right to 
take his negroes to Kansas that a freeman has to take his hogs 
or his horses. This would be true if negroes were property in 
the same sense that hogs and horses are. But is this the case? 
It is notoriously not so. Southern men do not treat their ne- 
groes as they do their horses. There are 400,000 free negroes 
in the United States. All the race came to this country as 
slaves. How came these negroes free? At $ 500 each, their 
value is $ 2,000,000. Can you find two million dollars worth of 
any other kind of property running about without an owner? 
These negroes are free, because their owners, in some way 
and at some time, felt satisfied that the creatures had mind, 
feeling, souls, family affections, hopes, joys, sorrows - some- 
thing that made them more than hogs or horses. Shall the 
Slaveholders require us to be more heartless and mean than 
they, and treat those beings as property which they themselves 
have never been able to treat so ? 2 

1 Speech at Bloomington, III, 9/26/54, II, 239. 

2 Speech at Springfield, 111., 10/4/54, H, 245-246. 


On Slavery and World Opinion 
This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real 
zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it be- 
cause of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it be- 
cause it deprives our republican example of its just influence 
in the world - enables the enemies of free institutions, with 
plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites - causes the real friends 
of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it 
forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an 
open war with the very fundamental principles of civil lib- 
erty - criticising the Declaration of Independence, and in- 
sisting that there is no right principle of action but self- 
interest. 1 

On Difficulty of Negro Problem 
When southern people tell us they are no more responsible 
for the origin of slavery, than we ; I acknowledge the fact. 
When it is said that the institution exists ; and that it is very 
difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can under- 
stand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them 
for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all 
earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, 
as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to 
free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, - to their own 
native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, 
that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be 
in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. 
If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in 
the next ten days ; and there are not surplus shipping and sur- 
plus money enough in the world to carry them there in many 
times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them 
among us as underlings ? Is it quite certain that this betters 

1 Speech at Peoria, 111., 10/16/54, II, 255. 


their condition ? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at 
any rate ; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce 
people upon. What next ? Free them, and make them politi- 
cally and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not ad- 
mit of this ; and if mine would, we well know that those of 
the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling 
accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole 
question, if indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, 
whether well or ill-founded, can not be safely disregarded. 
We can not, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that 
systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted ; but for 
their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our 
brethren of the south. 

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I 
acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully, and fairly ; and 
I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their 
fugitives, which should not, in its stringency, be more likely 
to carry a free man into slavery, than our ordinary criminal 
laws are to hang an innocent one. 1 

On Slavery and Declaration of Independence 
My declarations upon this subject of negro slavery may be 
misrepresented, but can not be misunderstood. I have said 
that I do not understand the Declaration to mean that all 
men were created equal in all respects. They are not our 
equal in color ; but I suppose that it does mean to declare that 
all men are equal in some respects ; they are equal in their 
right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Certainly 
the negro is not our equal in color - perhaps not in many 
other respects ; still, in the right to put into his mouth the 
bread that his own hands have earned, he is the equal of 
every other man, white or black. In pointing out that more 

1 Speech at Peoria, 111., 10/16/54, II, 255-256. 


has been given you, you can not be justified in taking away 
the little which has been given him. All I ask for the negro 
is that if you do not like him, let him alone. If God gave him 
but little, that little let him enjoy. 1 

At Galesburg the other day, I said in answer to Judge Doug- 
las, that three years ago there never had been a man, so far 
as I knew or believed, in the whole world, who had said that 
the Declaration of Independence did not include negroes in 
the therm "all men." I re-assert it to-day. I assert that Judge 
Douglas and all his friends may search the whole records of 
the country, and it will be a matter of great astonishment to 
me if they shall be able to find that one human being three 
years ago had ever uttered the astounding sentiment that the 
term "all men" in the Declaration did not include the negro. 
Do not let me be misunderstood. I know that more than 
three years ago there were men who, finding this assertion 
constantly in the way of their schemes to bring about the 
ascendancy and perpetuation of slavery, denied the truth of it, 
I know that Mr. Calhoun and all the politicians of his school 
denied the truth of the Declaration. I know that it ran along 
in the mouths of some Southern men for a period of years, 
ending at last in that shameful though rather forcible decla- 
ration of Pettit of Indiana, upon the floor of the United 
States Senate, that the Declaration of Independence was in that 
respect "a self-evident lie," rather than a self-evident truth. 
But I say, with a perfect knowledge of all this hawking at the 
Declaration without directly attacking it, that three years 
ago there never had lived a man who had ventured to assail 
it in the sneaking way of pretending to believe it and then as- 
serting it did not include the negro. [Cheers.] I believe the 

1 Speech at Springfield, 111., 7/17/58, II, 520. 


first man who ever said it was Chief Justice Taney in the 
Dred Scott case, and the next to him was our friend Stephen 
A. Douglas. [Cheers and laughter.] And now it has become 
the catch-word of the entire party. I would like to call upon 
his friends everywhere to consider how they have come in so 
short a time to view this matter in a way so entirely different 
from their former belief? to ask whether they are not being 
borne along by an irresistible current - whither they know 
not? [Great applause.] 1 

On Dealing with Slavery Peacefully 
On this subject of treating it as a wrong, and limiting its 
spread, let me say a word. Has any thing ever threatened the 
existence of this Union save and except this very institution 
of Slavery ? What is it that w r e hold most dear amongst us ? 
Our own liberty and prosperity. What has ever threatened 
our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of 
Slavery ? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the 
condition of things by enlarging Slavery - by spreading it 
out and making it bigger ? You may have a wen or a cancer 
upon your person and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed 
to death ; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and 
spread it over your whole body. That is no proper way of 
treating what you regard a wrong. You see this peaceful way 
of dealing with it as a wrong - restricting the spread of it, and 
not allowing it to go into new countries where it has not al- 
ready existed. That is the peaceful way, the old-fashioned 
way, the way in which the fathers themselves set us the 
example. 2 

On the Real Issue of the Times 

Take all the argument made in favor of the system you have 
proposed, and it carefully excludes the idea that there is any- 

1 Debate at Alton, 10/15/58, III, 301-302. 

2 Debate at Alton, 10/15/58, III, 313. 


thing wrong in the institution of slavery. The arguments to 
sustain that policy carefully excluded it. Even here to-day 
you heard Judge Douglas quarrel with me because I uttered 
a wish that it might sometime come to an end. Although 
Henry Clay could say he wished every slave in the United 
States was in the country of his ancestors, I am denounced 
by those pretending to respect Henry Clay for uttering a 
wish that it might sometime, in some peaceful way, come to 
an end. The Democratic policy in regard to that institution 
will not tolerate the merest breath, the slightest hint, of the 
least degree of wrong about it. Try it by some of Judge Doug- 
las' arguments. He says he "don't care whether it is voted 
up or voted down" in the Territories. I do not care myself in 
dealing with that expression, whether it is intended to be ex- 
pressive of his individual sentiments on the subject, or only 
of the national policy he desires to have established. It is alike 
valuable for my purpose. Any man can say that who does not 
see anything wrong in slavery, but no man can logically say it 
who does see a wrong in it ; because no man can logically say 
he dorUt care whether a wrong is voted up or voted down. 
He may say he dorCt care whether an indifferent thing is vot- 
ed up or voted down, but he must logically have a choice 
between a right thing and a wrong thing. He contends that 
whatever community wants slaves has a right to have them. 
So they have if it is not a wrong. But if it is a wrong, he can- 
not say people have a right to do wrong. He says that upon 
the score of equality, slaves should be allowed to go in a new 
Territory, like other property. This is strictly logical if there 
is no difference between it and other property. If it and other 
property are equal, his argument is entirely logical. But if 
you insist that one is wrong and the other right, there is no use 
to institute a comparison between right and wrong. You may 
turn over everything in the Democratic policy from begin- 


ning to end, whether in the shape it takes on the statute book, 
in the shape it takes in the Dred Scott decision, in the shape 
it takes in conversation or the shape it takes in short maxim- 
like arguments - it everywhere carefully exludes the idea 
that there is anything wrong in it. 

That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in 
this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and 
myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these 
two principles - right and wrong - throughout the world. 
They are the two principles that have stood face to face from 
the beginning of time ; and will ever continue to struggle. The 
one is the common right of humanity and the other the di- 
vine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape 
it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work 
and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." [Loud applause.] No 
matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a 
king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and 
live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an 
apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical 
principle. I was glad to express my gratitude at Qiiincy, and 
I re-express it here to Judge Douglas - that he looks to no end 
of the institution of slavery. That will help the people to see 
where the struggle really is. It will hereafter place with us 
all men who really do wish the wrong may have end. And 
whenever w 7 e can get rid of the fog which obscures the real 
question - when we can get Judge Douglas and his friends 
to avow a policy looking to its perpetuation - we can get out 
from among them that class of men and bring them to the 
side of those who treat it as a wrong. Then there will soon be 
an end of it, and that end will be its "ultimate extinction." 
Whenever the issue can be distinctly made, and all extra- 
neous matter thrown out so that men can fairly see the real 
difference between the parties, this controversy will soon be 



settled, and it will be done peaceably too. There will be no 
war, no violence. It will be placed again where the wisest and 
best men of the world, placed it. Brooks of South Carolina 
once declared that when this Constitution was framed, its 
framers did not look to the institution existing until this day. 
When he said this, I think he stated a fact that is fully borne 
out by the history of the times. But he also said they were 
better and wiser men than the men of these days ; yet the 
men of these days had experience which they had not, and 
by the invention of the cotton gin it became a necessity in 
this country that slavery should be perpetual. I now say that 
willingly or unwillingly, purposely or without purpose, Judge 
Douglas has been the most prominent instrument in chang- 
ing the position of the institution of slavery which the fa- 
thers of the government expected to come to an end ere this 

- and putting it upon Brooks' cotton gin basis, [Great applause.] 

- placing it where he openly confesses he has no desire there 
shall ever be an end of it. [Renewed applause.] l 

On Compensated Emancipation 
My dear Sir : I am grateful to the New- York Journals, and 
not less so to the Times than to others, for their kind notices 
of the late special Message to Congress. Your paper, however, 
intimates that the proposition, though well-intentioned, must 
fail on the score of expense. I do hope you will reconsider 
this. Have you noticed the facts that less than one half-day's 
cost of this war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware, at 
four hundred dollars per head ? - that eighty-seven days cost 
of this war would pay for all in Delaware, Maryland, District 
of Columbia, Kentucky, and Missouri at the same price? 
Were those states to take the step, do you doubt that it would 
shorten the war more than eighty-seven days, and thus be an 

1 Debate at Alton, 10/15/58, III, 314-316. 


actual saving of expense. Please look at these things, and con- 
sider whether there should not be another article in the 
Times? 1 

Gentlemen. After the adjournment of Congress, now very- 
near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several 
months. Believing that you of the border-states hold more 
power for good than any other equal number of members, I 
feel it a duty which I can not justifiably waive, to make this 
appeal to you. I intend no reproach or complaint when I 
assure you that in my opinion, if you all had voted for the 
resolution in the gradual emancipation message of last March, 
the war would now be substantially ended. And the plan 
therein proposed is yet one of the most potent, and swift 
means of ending it. Let the states which are in rebellion see, 
definitely and certainly, that, in no event, will the states you 
represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they can 
not, much longer maintain the contest. But you can not di- 
vest them of their hope to ultimately have you with them so 
long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institu- 
tion within your own states. Beat them at elections, as you 
have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still 
claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of 
their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they 
can shake you no more forever. 

Most of you have treated me with kindness and considera- 
tion ; and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch 
what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole 
country I ask u Can you, for your states, do better than to 
take the course I urge? Discarding punctillio, and max- 
ims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only 
to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do 

1 To Henry J.Raymond, 3/9/62, V, 152-153- 


better in any possible event? ["] You prefer that the constitu- 
tional relation of the states to the nation shall be practically 
restored, without disturbance of the institution ; and if this 
were done, my whole duty, in this respect, under the consti- 
tution, and my oath of office, would be performed. But it is 
not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The inci- 
dents of the war can not be avoided. If the war continue 
long, as it must, if the object be not sooner attained, the in- 
stitution in your states will be extinguished by mere friction 
and abrasion - by the mere incidents of the war. It will be 
gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much 
of it's value is gone already. How much better for you, and 
for your people, to take the step which, at once, shortens the 
war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is 
sure to be wholly lost in any other event. How much better 
to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war. 
How much better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long 
render us pecuniarily unable to do it. How much better for 
you, as seller, and the nation as buyer, to sell out, and buy 
out, that without which the war could never have been, than 
to sink both the thing to be sold, and the price of it, in cutting 
one another's throats. 

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at 
once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for 
colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; 
and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and 
encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be 
so reluctant to go. 

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned - one 
which threatens division among those who, united are none 
too strong. An instance of it is known to you. Gen. Hunter is 
an honest man. He was, and I hope, still is, my friend. I val- 
ued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general 


wish that all men everywhere, could be free. He proclaimed 
all men free within certain states, and I repudiated the pro- 
clamation. He expected more good, and less harm from the 
measure, than I could believe would follow. Yet in repudia- 
ting it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offence, to many whose 
support the country can not afford to lose. And this is not 
the end of it. The pressure, in this direction, is still upon me, 
and is increasing. By conceding what I now ask, you can re- 
lieve me, and much more, can relieve the country, in this im- 
portant point. Upon these considerations I have again beg- 
ged your attention to the message of March last. Before leav- 
ing the Capital, consider and discuss it among yourselves. 
You are patriots and statesmen; and, as such, I pray you, 
consider this proposition ; and, at the least, commend it to 
the consideration of your states and people. As you would 
perpetuate popular government for the best people in the 
world, I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this. Our 
common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest 
views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. Once re- 
lieved, it's form of government is saved to the world ; it's be- 
loved history, and cherished memories, are vindicated ; and 
it's happy future fully assured, and rendered inconceivably 
grand. To you, more than to any others, the previlege is 
given, to assure that happiness, and swell that grandeur, and 
to link your own names therewith forever. 1 

On Colonization 
You and we are different races. We have between us a broad- 
er difference than exists between almost any other two ra- 
ces. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this 
physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I 

1 Appeal to Border State Representatives to Favor Compensated Eman- 
cipation, 7/12/62, V, 317-319. 


think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living 
among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word 
we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason 
at least why we should be separated. You here are freemen 
I suppose. 

A Voice : Yes, sir. 

The President - Perhaps you have long been free, or all 
your lives. Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the 
greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you 
cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed 
on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from 
many of the advantages which the other race enjoy. The aspi- 
ration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, 
but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is 
made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are 
treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. 

I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact 
with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is 
a fact, about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We 
look to our condition, owing to the existence of the two races 
on this continent. I need not recount to you the effects upon 
white men, growing out of the institution of Slavery.... See 
our present condition - the country engaged in war ! - our 
white men cutting one another's throats, none knowing how 
far it will extend ; and then consider what we know to be the 
truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, 
although many men engaged on either side do not care for 
you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the 
institution of Slavery and the colored race as a basis, the war 
could not have an existence. 

It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know 
that there are free men among you, who even if they could 
better their condition are not as much inclined to go out of 


the country as those, who being slaves could obtain their 
freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the principal dif- 
ficulties in the way of colonization is that the free colored 
man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. 
You may believe you can live in Washington or elsewhere in 
the United States the remainder of your life [as easily], or 
perhaps more so than you can in any foreign country, and 
hence you may come to the conclusion that you have nothing 
to do with the idea of going to a foreign country. This is (I 
speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the 

But you ought to do something to help those who are not 
so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the 
part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored 
people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to 
white people, you would open a wide door for many to be 
made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the be- 
ginning, and whose intellects are clouded by Slavery, we have 
very poor materials to start with. If intelligent colored men, 
such as are before me, would move in this matter, much 
might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we 
have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, 
and not those who have been systematically oppressed. 

There is much to encourage you. For the sake of your race 
you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for 
the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white 
people. It is a cheering thought throughout life that some- 
thing can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who 
have been subject to the hard usage of the world. It is difficult 
to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of him- 
self, and claims kindred to the great God who made him. In 
the American Revolutionary war sacrifices were made by 
men engaged in it ; but they were cheered by the future. Gen. 


Washington himself endured greater physical hardships than 
if he had remained a British subject. Yet he was a happy man, 
because he was engaged in benefiting his race - something 
for the children of his neighbors, having none of his own. 

The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. 
In a certain sense it is a success. The old President of Li- 
beria, Roberts, has just been with me - the first time I ever 
saw him. He says they have within the bounds of that colony 
between 300,000 and 400,000 people, or more than in some 
of our old States.... They are not all American colonists, or 
their descendants. Something less than 12,000 have been 
sent thither from this country. Many of the original settlers 
have died, yet, like people elsewhere, their offspring out- 
number those deceased. 

The question is if the colored people are persuaded to go 
anywhere, why not there ? One reason for an unwilligness to 
do so is that some of you would rather remain within reach 
of the country of your nativity. I do not know how much at- 
tachment you may have toward our race. It does not strike 
me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still 
you are attached to them at all events. 

The place I am thinking about having for a colony is in 
Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia - not much 
more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven 
day's run by steamers. Unlike Liberia it is on a great line of 
travel - it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for 
any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, 
and especially because of the similarity of climate with your 
native land - thus being suited to your physical condition. 

The particular place I have in view is to be a great high- 
way from the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, 
and this particular place has all the advantages for a colony. 
On both sides there are harbors among the finest in the 


world. Again, there is evidence of very rich coal mines. A 
certain amount of coal is valuable in any country, and there 
may be more than enough for the wants of the country. Why 
I attach so much importance to coal is, it will afford an op- 
portunity to the inhabitants for immediate employment till 
they get ready to settle permanently in their homes. 

If you take colonists where there is no good landing, there 
is a bad show ; and so where there is nothing to cultivate, and 
of which to make a farm. But if something is started so that 
you can get your daily bread as soon as you reach there, it is 
a great advantage. Coal land is the best thing I know of with 
which to commence an enterprise. 

To return, you have been talked to upon this subject, and 
told that a speculation is intended by gentlemen, who have an 
interest in the country, including the coal mines. We have been 
mistaken all our lives if we do not know whites as well as 
blacks look to their self-interest. Unless among those defi- 
cient of intellect everybody you trade with makes something. 
You meet with these things here as elsewhere. 

If such persons have what will be an advantage to them, 
the question is whether it cannot be made of advantage to 
you. You are intelligent, and know that success does not as 
much depend on external help as on self-reliance. Much, 
therefore, depends upon yourselves. As to the coal mines, I 
think I see the means available for your self-reliance. 

I shall, if I get a sufficient number of you engaged, have 
provisions made that you shall not be wronged. If you will 
engage in the enterprise I will spend some of the money 
intrusted to me. I am not sure you will succeed. The Govern- 
ment may lose the money, but we cannot succeed unless we 
try ; but we think, with care, we can succeed. 

The political affairs in Central America are not in quite as 
satisfactory condition as I wish. There are contending fac- 



tions in that quarter ; but it is true all the factions are agreed 
alike on the subject of colonization, and want it, and are more 
generous than we are here. To your colored race they have 
no objection. Besides, I would endeavor to have you made 
equals, and have the best assurance that you should be the 
equals of the best. 

The practical thing I want to ascertain is whether I can 
get a number of able-bodied men, with their wives and chil- 
dren, who are willing to go, when I present evidence of en- 
couragement and protection. Could I get a hundred tolerably 
intelligent men, with their wives and children, to "cut their 
own fodder," so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find 
twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and 
children, good things in the family relation, I think I could 
make a successful commencement. 

I want you to let me know whether this can be done or not. 
This is the practical part of my wish to see you. These are 
subjects of very great importance, worthy of a month's study, 
[instead] of a speech delivered in an hour. I ask you then to 
consider seriously not pertaining to yourselves merely, nor 
for your race, and ours, for the present time, but as one of the 
things, if sucessfully managed, for the good of mankind - 
not confined to the present generation, but as 

"From age to age descends the lay, 

To millions yet to be 
Till far its echoes roll away, 

Into eternity" l 

On Problems of Emancipation 
I am approached with the most opposite opinions and ad- 
vice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that 

1 Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes, 8/14/62, V, 



they represent the Divine Will. I am sure that either the one 
or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in 
some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to 
say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to 
others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be 
supposed he would reveal it directly to me ; for, unless I am 
more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest de- 
sire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can 
learn what it is I will do it! These are not, however, the days 
of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to 
expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical 
facts of the case, ascertain what is possible and learn what 
appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult, and good 
men do not agree. For instance, the other day four gentlemen 
of standing and intelligence (naming one or two of the num- 
ber) from New York called, as a delegation, on business con- 
nected with the war ; but, before leaving, two of them ear- 
nestly beset me to proclaim general emancipation, upon 
which the other two at once attacked them ! You know, also, 
that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of 
anti-slavery men, yet they could not unite on this policy. 
And the same is true of the religious people. Why, the rebel 
soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness, I 
fear, than our own troops, and expecting God to favor their 
side ; for one of our soldiers, who had been taken prisoner, 
told Senator Wilson, a few days since, that he met with no- 
thing so discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he 
was among in their prayers. But we will talk over the merits 
of the case. 

What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me 
do, especially as we are now situated ? I do not want to issue 
a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be 
inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the comet! Would 



my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Con- 
stitution in the rebel States? Is there a single court, or magi- 
strate, or individual that would be influenced by it there? 
And what reason is there to think it would have any greater 
effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I 
approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the 
slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines ? Yet I 
cannot learn that that law has caused a single slave to come 
over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proclama- 
tion of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what 
should we do with them ? How can we feed and care for such a 
multitude ? Gen. Butler wrote me a few days since that he was 
issuing more rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than 
to all the white troops under his command. They eat, and 
that is all, though it is true Gen. Butler is feeding the whites 
also by the thousand; for it nearly amounts to a famine 
there. If, now, the pressure of the war should call off our 
forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what 
is to prevent the masters from reducing the blacks to slav- 
ery again ; for I am told that whenever the rebels take any 
black prisoners, free or slave, they immediately auction them 
off! They did so with those they took from a boat that was 
aground in the Tennessee river a few days ago. And then / 
am very ungenerously attacked for it! For instance, when, after 
the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition went out 
from Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and 
bring in the wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks who 
went along to help and sent them into slavery, Horace Greel- 
ey said in his paper that the Government would probably do 
nothing about it. What could I do?... 

Now then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of 
good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you 
desire? Understand, I raise no objections against it on legal 


or constitutional grounds; for, as commander-in-chief of the 
army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to 
take any measure which may best subdue the enemy. Nor 
do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible 
consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I 
view the matter as a practical war measure, to be decided 
upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may 
offer to the suppression of the rebellion. 1 

On Effect of Emancipation Proclamation 
Your kind letter of the 25 th is just received. It is known to 
some that while I hope something from the proclamation, 
my expectations are not as sanguine as are those of some 
friends. The time for its effect southward has not come ; but 
northward the effect should be instantaneous. 

It is six days old, and while commendation in newspapers 
and by distinguished individuals is all that a vain man could 
wish, the stocks have declined, and the troops come forward 
more slowly than ever. This, looked soberly in the face, is not 
very satisfactory. We have fewer troops in the field at the end 
of six days than we had at the beginning - the attrition 
among the old outnumbering the addition by the new. The 
North responds to the proclamation sufficiently in breath; 
but breath alone kills no rebels. 

I wish I could write more cheerfully ; nor do I thank you 
the less for the kindness of your letter. 2 

On Negro Voting 
I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as 
the first-free-state Governor of Louisiana. Now you are 
about to have a Convention which, among other things, will 

1 Reply to Emancipation Memorial Presented by Chicago Christians of 
All Denominations, 9/13/62, V, 419-421. 

2 To Hannibal Hamlin, 9/28/62, V, 444. 


probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest for 
your private consideration, whether some of the colored 
people may not be let in - as, for instance, the very intelligent, 
and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. 
They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to 
keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. But 
this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone. 1 

I never knew a man who wished to be himself a slave. Con- 
sider if you know any good thing, that no man desires for 
himself. 2 

On the importance of Colored Troops 
Your inviting me to attend a Union Mass Meeting at Buffalo 
is received. Much is being said about peace ; and no man de- 
sires peace more ardently than I. Still I am yet unprepared 
to give up the Union for a peace which, so achieved, could 
not be of much duration. The preservation of our Union was 
not the sole avowed object for which the war was commenced. 
It was commenced for precisely the reverse object - to de- 
stroy our Union. The insurgents commenced it by firing upon 
the Star of the West, and on Fort Sumpter, and by other sim- 
ilar acts. It is true, however, that the administration accep- 
ted the war thus commenced, for the sole avowed object of 
preserving our Union; and it is not true that it has since 
been, or will be, prosecuted by this administration, for any 
other object. In declaring this, I only declare what I can 
know, and do know to be true, and what no other man can 
know to be false. 

In taking the various steps which have led to my present 
position in relation to the war, the public interest and my 

1 To Michael Hahn, 3/13/64, VII, 243. 

2 On Slavery, 3/22/64, VII, 260. 


private interest, have been perfectly parallel, because in no 
other way could I serve myself so well, as by truly serving 
the Union. The whole field has been open to me, where to 
choose. No place-hunting necessity has been upon me urg- 
ing me to seek a position of antagonism to some other man, 
irrespective of whether such position might be favorable or 
unfavorable to the Union. 

Of course I may err in judgment, but my present position 
in reference to the rebellion is the result of my best judgment, 
and according to that best judgment, it is the only position 
upon which any Executive can or could save the Union. Any 
substantial departure from it insures the success of the rebel- 
lion. An armistice - a cessation of hostilities - is the end of 
the struggle, and the insurgents would be in peaceable pos- 
session of all that has been struggled for. Any different policy 
in regard to the colored man, deprives us of his help, and this 
is more than we can bear. We can not spare the hundred and 
forty or fifty thousand now serving us as soldiers, seamen, 
and laborers. This is not a question of sentiment or taste, but 
one of physical force which may be measured and estimated 
as horse-power and Steam-power are measured and estimat- 
ed. Keep it and you can save the Union. Throw it away, and 
the Union goes with it. Nor is it possible for any Administra- 
tion to retain the service of these people with the express or 
implied understanding that upon the first convenient occa- 
sion, they are to be re-inslaved. It can not be ; and it ought 
not to be. 1 

1 To Isaac M. Schermerhorn, 9/12/64, VIII, 1-2. 



On the Practice of Law 
I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much ma- 
terial for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in 
those wherein I have been moderately successful. The lead- 
ing rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, 
is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done 
to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever 
piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all 
the labor pertaining to it which can then be done. When you 
bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts for doing so, 
write the declaration at once. If a law point be involved, exam- 
ine the books, and note the authority you rely on upon the 
declaration itself, where you are sure to find it when wanted. 
The same of defenses and pleas. In business not likely to be 
litigated, - ordinary collection cases, foreclosures, partitions, 
and the like, - make all examinations of titles, and note them, 
and even draft orders and decrees in advance. This course 
has a triple advantage ; it avoids omissions and neglect, saves 
your labor when once done, performs the labor out of court 
when you have leisure, rather than in court when you 
have not. Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and 
cultivated. It is the lawyer's avenue to the public. However 
able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow 
to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet 
there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying 
too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his rare pow- 
ers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudg- 
ery of the law, his case is a failure in advance. 

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to com- 


promise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nom- 
inal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses, and 
waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior op- 
portunity of being a good man. There will still be business 

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be 
found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a 
fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in 
search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put 
money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into 
the profession which should drive such men out of it.... 

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily 
dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what 
extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred 
upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their 
impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the 
impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man 
choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popu- 
lar belief- resolve to be honest at all events ; and if in your 
own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be 
honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation , 
rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, 
consent to be a knave. l 

On How to Become a Lawyer 
I have just reached home, and found your letter of the 23 rd. 
ult. I am from home too much of my time, for a young man 
to read law with me advantageously. If you are resolutely de- 
termined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than 
half done already. It is but a small matter whether you read 
with any body or not. I did not read with any one. Get the 
books, and read and study them till you understand them 

1 Fragment: Notes for a Law Lecture, 7/1/50?, II, 81-82. 

ON LAW 71 

in their principal features ; and that is the main thing. It is 
of no consequence to be in a large town while you are read- 
ing. I read at New-Salem, which never had three hundred 
people living in it. The books, and your capacity for under- 
standing them, are just the same in all places. Mr. Dummer is 
a very clever man and an excellent lawyer (much better than 
I, in law-learning) ; and I have no doubt he will cheerfully 
tell you what books to read, and also loan you the books. 

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, 
is more important than any other one thing. Very truly Your 
friend. 1 

Yours of the 14th. of July, desiring a situation in my law 
office, was received several days ago. My partner, Mr. Hern- 
don, controls our office in this respect, and I have known of 
his declining at least a dozen application like yours within the 
last three months. 

If you wish to be a lawyer, attach no consequence to the 
place you are in, or the person you are with ; but get books, sit 
down anywhere, and go to reading for yourself. That will 
make a lawyer of you quicker than any other way. 2 

1 To Isham Reavis, 1 1/5/55, H> 3 2 7- 

* To William H. Grigsby, 8/3/58, II, 535. 


Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions 
In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, 
the American People, find our account running, under date 
of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find our- 
selves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the 
erath, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salu- 
brity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of 
a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially 
to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the 
history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the 
stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of 
these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquire- 
ment or establishment of them - they are a legacy bequeath- 
ed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now la- 
mented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task 
(and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and 
through themselves, us, of this goodly land ; and to uprear 
upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and 
equal rights ; 'tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, un- 
profaned by the foot of an invader ; the latter, undecayed by 
the lapse of time, and untorn by usurpation - to the latest 
generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task 
of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to pos- 
terity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively 
require us faithfully to perform. 

How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we 
expect the approach of danger ? By what means shall we for- 
tify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military 
giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never ! All 


the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the 
treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military 
chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by 
force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the 
Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. 

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expec- 
ted ? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst 
us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we 
must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free- 
men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. 

I hope I am over wary ; but if I am not, there is, even now, 
something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing dis- 
regard for law which pervades the country ; the growing dis- 
position to substitute the vvdld and furious passions, in lieu 
of the sober judgment of Courts ; and the worse than savage 
mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition 
is awfully fearful in any community ; and that it now exists 
in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be 
a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. 
Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every- 
day news of our times. They have pervaded the country, from 
New England to Louisiana ; - they are neither peculiar to the 
eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the lat- 
ter ; - they are not the creature of climate - neither are they 
confined to the slaveholding, or the non-slaveholding States. 
Alike, they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of 
Southern slaves, and the order loving citizens of the land of 
steady habits. Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is com- 
mon to the whole country.... 

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, "What has this to do 
with the perpetuation of our political institutions?" I answer, 
it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, com- 
paratively speaking, but a small evil ; and much of its danger 


consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as 
its only consequences.... 

By the operation of this mobocratic spirit, which all must 
admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of 
any Government, and particularly of those constituted like 
ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed - I 
mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall 
be produced among us ; whenever the vicious portion of pop- 
ulation shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds 
and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision 
stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and 
hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with im- 
punity ; depend on it, this Government cannot last.... 

I know the American People are much attached to their 
Government ; - 1 know they would suffer much for its sake ; - 
I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they 
would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithst- 
anding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregar- 
ded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, 
are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the 
alienation of their affections from the Government is the na- 
tural consequence ; and to that, sooner or later, it must come. 

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected. 

The question recurs "how shall we fortify against it?" The 
answ r er is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, 
every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the 
Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws 
of the country ; and never to tolerate their violation by others. 
As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declar- 
ation of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution 
and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and 
his sacred honor... Let reverence for the laws, be breathed 
by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles 


on her lap - let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in 
colleges ; - let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and 
in Almanacs ; - let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed 
in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in 
short, let it become the political religion of the nation ; and let 
the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and 
the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, 
sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars. 

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, 
or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain 
will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert 
our national freedom... 

But, it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political 
institutions? Have we not preserved them for more than 
fifty years? And why may we not for fifty times as long? 

We hope there is no sufficient reason. We hope all dangers 
may be overcome ; but to conclude that no danger may ever 
arise, would itself be extremely dangerous. There are now, 
and will hereafter be, many causes, dangerous in their tend- 
ency, which have not existed heretofore ; and which are not 
too insignificant to merit attention. That our government 
should have been maintained in its original form from its 
establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It 
had many props to support it through that period, which 
now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, 
it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment ; now, it is 
understood to be a successful one. Then, all that sought ce- 
lebrity and fame, and distinction, expected to find them in 
the success of that experiment. Their all was staked upon it : 
- their destiny was inseparably linked with it. Their ambition 
aspired to display before an admiring world, a practical dem- 
onstration of the truth of a proposition, which had hitherto 
been considered, at best no better, than problematical; 


namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves. If they 
succeeded, they were to be immortalized ; their names were 
to be transferred to counties and cities, and rivers and moun- 
tains ; and to be revered and sung, and toasted through all 
time. If they failed, they were to be called knaves and fools, 
and fanatics for a fleeting hour ; then to sink and be forgotten. 
They succeeded. The experiment is successful ; and thou- 
sands have won their deathless names in making it so. But 
the game is caught ; and I believe it is true, that with the 
catching, end the pleasures of the chase. This field of glory is 
harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new 
reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, 
what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that 
men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up 
amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek 
the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so 
done before them.... 

Another reason which once was; but which, to the same 
extent, is now no more, has done much in maintaining our in- 
stitutions thus far. I mean the powerful influence which the 
interesting scenes of the revolution had upon the passions of 
the people as distinguished from their judgment.... 

But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with 
the circumstances that produced it. 

I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are 
now or ever will be entirely forgotten ; but that like every thing 
else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow 
more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, 
they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall 
be read ; - but even granting that they will, their influence 
cannot be what it heretofore has been. 1 

1 Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, 111., 1/27/38, 
I, 108-115. 



On Right of Revolution 
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, 
have the right to rise up and shake off the existing govern- 
ment, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a 
most valuable, - a most sacred right - a right, which we 
hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right 
confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing 
government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such 
people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so 
much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a major- 
ity of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting 
down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, 
who may oppose their movement. Such minority, was pre- 
cisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution. It is a 
quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, or old laws ; but 
to break up both, and make new ones. 1 

On Government 
The legitimate object of government, is to do for a commu- 
nity of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not 
do, at all y or can not, so well do, for themselves - in their 
separate, and individual capacities. 

In all that the people can individually do as well for them- 
selves, government ought not to interfere. 

The desirable things which the individuals of a people can 
not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two clas- 
ses : those which have relation to wrongs, and those which 
have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of 

The first - that in relation to wrongs - embraces all crimes, 
misdemeanors, and non-performance of contracts. The other 
embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires 

1 Speech in House of Representatives, 1/12/48, I, 438-439. 


combined action, as public roads and highways, public 
schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the de- 
ceased, and the machinery of government itself. 

From this it appears that if all men were just, there still 
would be some y though not so much, need of government. 

Government is a combination of the people of a country to 
effect certain objects by joint effort. The best framed and 
best administered governments are necessarily expensive, 
while by errors in frame and maladministration most of them 
are more onerous than they need be, and some of them very 
oppressive. Why, then, should we have government? Why 
not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his la- 
bor, without having any of it taxed away, in services, corn, 
or money, Why not take just so much land as he can culti- 
vate with his own hands, without buying it of any one? 

The legitimate object of government is "to do for the people 
what needs to be done, but which they can not, by indiv- 
idual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves." There 
are many such things - some of them exist independently 
of the injustice in the world. Making and maintaining roads, 
bridges, and the like ; providing for the helpless young and 
afflicted ; common schools ; and disposing of deceased men's 
property, are instances . 

But a far larger class of objects springs from the injustice 
of men. If one people will make war upon another, it is a 
necessity with that other to unite and cooperate for defense. 
Hence the military department. If some men will kill, or beat, 
or constrain others, or despoil them of property, by force, 
fraud, or noncompliance with contracts, it is a common ob- 
ject with peaceful and just men to prevent it. Hence the 
criminal and civil departments. 

Most governments have been based, practically, on the de- 
nial of equal rights of men, as I have, in part, stated them ; 



ours began, by affirming those rights. They said, some men 
are too ignorant^ and vicious to share in government. We 
proposed to give all a chance ; and we expected the weak to 
grow stronger, the ignorant, wiser ; and all better, and hap- 
pier together. 1 

On Causes of Greatness of the United States 
We are a great empire. We are eighty years old. We stand at 
once the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and we 
must enquire what it is that has given us so much prosperity, 
and we shall understand that to give up that one thing, would 
be to give up all future prosperity. This cause is that every 
man can make himself. It has been said that such a race of 
prosperity has been run nowhere else. We find a people on 
the North-east, who have a different government from ours, 
being ruled by a Queen. Turning to the South, we see a 
people who, while they boast of being free, keep their fellow 
beings in bondage. Compare our Free States with either, 
shall we say here that we have no interest in keeping that 
principle alive, shall we say - "Let it be." No - we have an 
interest in the maintenance of the principles of the Govern- 
ment, and without this interest, it is worth nothing. I have 
noticed in Southern newspapers, particularly the Richmond 
Enquirer ', the Southern view of the Free States. They insist 
that slaverly has a right to spread. They defend it upon prin- 
ciple. They insist that their slaves are far better off than North- 
ern freemen. What a mistaken view do these men have of 
Northern laborers ! They think that men are always to re- 
main laborers here - but there is no such class. The man who 
labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and 
next year he will hire others to labor for him. These men 
don't understand when they think in this manner of Northern 

1 Fragments, 7/1/54, II, 220-222. 


free labor. When these reasons can be introduced, tell me not 
that we have no interest in keeping the Territories free for 
the settlement of free laborers. 1 

On American Opportunity 
Now irrespective of the moral aspect of this question as to 
whether there is a right or wrong in enslaving a negro, I am 
still in favor of our new Territories being in such a condition 
that white men may find a home - may find some spot where 
they can better their condition - where they can settle upon 
new soil and better their condition in life. [Great and contin- 
ued cheering.] I am in favor of this not merely, (I must say 
it here as I have elsewhere), for our own people who are born 
amongst us, but as an outlet for free white people everywhere, 
the world over - in which Hans and Baptiste and Patrick, 
and all other men from all the world, may find new homes 
and better their conditions in life. [Loud and long continued 
applause.] 2 

The Spirit of American Institutions 
Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the ele- 
vation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade 
them. I have some little notoriety for commiserating the op- 
pressed condition of the negro ; and I should be strangely in- 
consistent if I could favor any project for curtailing the exi- 
sting rights of white men, even though born in different lands, 
and speaking different languages from myself. 3 

On the Basis of Government 
I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, and with the address of 
your constituents, in the declaration that working men are 

1 Speech at Kalamazoo, Mich., 8/27/56, II, 364. 

2 Debate at Alton, 10/15/58, III, 312. 

3 To Theodore Canisius, 5/17/59, III, 380. 


the basis of all governments. That remark is due to them more 
than any other class, for the reason that there are more of 
them than any other class. And as your address is presented 
to me not only on behalf of workingmen, but especially of 
Germans, I may say a word as to classes. I hold the value 
of life is to improve one's condition. Whatever is calculated 
to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring 
man, so far as my judgment will enable me to judge of a cor- 
rect thing, I am for that thing. 

An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think 
it worthy of consideration, and that the wild lands of the 
country should be distributed so that every man should 
have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition. 
[Cheers.] I have said I do not desire to enter into details, nor 
will I. 

In regard to Germans and foreigners, I esteem foreigners 
no better than other people, nor any worse. [Laughter and 
cheers.] They are all of the great family of men, and if there is 
one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift 
the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. 
[Cheers.] And, inasmuch as the continent of America is com- 
paratively a new country, and the other countries of the 
world are old countries, there is more room here, comparati- 
vely speaking, than there is there ; and if they can better 
their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing 
in my heart to forbid them coming ; and I bid them all God 
speed. [Cheers.] ' 

The Central Idea of America 
I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here 
in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the 
patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the 

1 Speech to Germans at Cincinnati, 2/ 12/61, IV, 203. 


institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested 
to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to our 
distracted country. I can say in return, sir, that all the political 
sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been 
able to draw them, from the sentiments which orginated, and 
were given to the world from this hall in which we stand. I 
have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from 
the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. 
[Great cheering.] I have often pondered over the dangers 
which were incurred by the men who assembled here and 
adopted that Declaration of Independence - I have pondered 
over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers 
of the army, who achieved that Independence. [Applause.] I 
have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it 
was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not 
the mere matter of separation of the colonies from the mother 
land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not 
alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for 
all future time. [Great applause.] It was that which gave 
promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from 
the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal 
chance. [Cheers.] This is the sentiment embodied in that 
Declaration of Independence. 

Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that ba- 
sis ? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men 
in the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved 
upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this 
country cannot be saved without giving up that principle - 
I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot 
than to surrender it. [Applause.] 

Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is 
no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. 
I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, 


there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the Gov- 
ernment. The Government will not use force unless force is 
used against it. [Prolonged applause and cries of "That's the 
proper sentiment."] 1 

On War and the People 

1 recommend that you give the legal means for making this 
contest a short, and a decisive one - that you authorize to be 
applied to the work, at least three hundred thousand men, 
and three hundred millions of dollars. That number of men 
is less than one twelfth of those of proper ages, within those 
regions where all are willing to engage ; and the sum is less 
than an eighteenth of the money-value owned by the men 
who are ready to devote the whole. A right result will be 
worth more to the world than ten times the men, and ten 
times the money. The evidence reaching us from the people 
leaves no doubt that the material for the work is abundant ; 
and that it needs only the hand of legislation to give it legal 
sanction ; and the hand of the Executive to give it practical 
shape and efficiency. The departments here have had more 
trouble to avoid receiving troops faster than they could pro- 
vide them than from any other cause. In a word, the people 
will save their government, if the government itself will allow 
them. 2 

On the War as a Test of Democracy 
This issue embraces more than the fate of these United 
States. It presents to the whole family of man, the question, 
whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy - a govern- 
ment of the people, by the same people - can, or cannot, 
maintain its territorial integrity, against its own domestic 
foes. It presents the question, whether discontented indivi- 

1 Speech in Independance Hall, Philadelphia, 2/22/61, IV, 240-241. 

2 Fragment of Draft of Message to Congress, 7/4/61, IV, 420-421. 


duals, too few in numbers to control administration, accord- 
ing to organic law, in any case, can always, upon the pre- 
tences made in this case, or on any other pretences, or arbi- 
trarily, without any pretence, break up their Government, 
and thus practically put an end to free government upon the 
earth. It forces us to ask: "Is there, in all republics, this in- 
herent, and fatal weakness?" "Must a government, of neces- 
sity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too 
weak to maintain its own existence?" 1 

The War "a People's Contest" 
It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free insti- 
tutions we enjoy, have developed the powers, and improved 
the condition, of our whole people, beyond any example in 
the world. Of this we now have a striking, and an impressive 
illustration. So large an army as the government has now on 
foot, was never before known, without a soldier in it, but 
who had taken his place there, of his own free choice. But 
more than this : there are many single Regiments whose mem- 
bers, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all 
the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether 
useful or elegant, is known in the world ; and there is scarce- 
ly one, from which there could not be selected, a President, 
a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abundantly 
competent to administer the government itself. Nor do I say 
this is not true, also, in the army of our late friends, now ad- 
versaries, in this contest ; but if it is, so much better the rea- 
son why the government, which has conferred such benefits 
on both them and us, should not be broken up. Whoever, in 
any section, proposes to abandon such a government, would 
do well to consider, in deference to what principle it is, that 
he does it -what better he is likely to get in its stead - wheth- 

1 Message to Congress, 7/4/61, IV, 426. 


er the substitute will give, or be intended to give, so much 
of good to the people. There are some foreshadowings on this 
subject. Our adversaries have adopted some Declarations of 
Independence ; in which, unlike the good old one, penned by 
Jefferson, they omit the words "all men are created equal." 
Why? They have adopted a temporary national constitution, 
in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one, signed by 
Washington, they omit "We, the People," and substitute 
"We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States." 
Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view, the rights of 
men, and the authority of the people ? 

This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the 
Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, 
and substance of government, whose leading object is, to ele- 
vate the condition of men - to lift artificial weights from all 
shoulders - to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all - to 
afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race 
of life. Yielding to partial, and temporary departures, from 
necessity, this is the leading object of the government for 
whose existence we contend 1 . 

On War and Popular Government 
Our popular government has often been called an experi- 
ment. Two points in it, our people have already settled - the 
successful establishing, and the successful administering of it. 
One still remains - its successful maintenance against a formi- 
dable [internal] attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to 
demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an 
election, can also suppress a rebellion - that ballots are the 
rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets ; and that when 
ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can 
be no successful appeal, back to bullets ; that there can be no 

1 Message to Congress, 7/4/61, IV, 437-438. 


successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding 
elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace ; teaching men 
that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they 
take it by a war - teaching all, the folly of being the begin- 
ners of a war. l 

On War Aims 
On this whole proposition, - including the appropriation of 
money with the acquisition of territory, does not the expe- 
diency amount to absolute necessity - that, without which 
the government itself cannot be perpetuated ? The war contin- 
ues. In considering the policy to be adopted for suppres- 
sing the insurrection, I have been anxious and careful that 
the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate 
into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have 
therefore, in every case, thought it proper to keep the integ- 
rity of the Union prominent as the primary object of the 
contest on our part, leaving all questions which are not of 
vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the 
legislature. 2 

On the Insurrection and Popular Government 
It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not 
exclusively a war upon the first principle of popular govern- 
ment - the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this 
is found in the most grave and maturely considered public 
documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. 
In those documents we find the abridgement of the existing 
right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to 
participate in the selection of public officers, except the leg- 
islative boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove 
that large control of the people in government, is the source 

1 Message to Congress, 7/4/61, IV, 439. 

2 Annual Message to Congress, 1 2/3/61, V, 48-49. 


of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as 
a possible refuge from the power of the people . 

In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were 
I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of re- 
turning despotism. 

It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument 
should be made in favor of popular institutions ; but there is 
one point, with its connexions, not so hackneyed as most 
others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to 
place capital on an equal footing with, if not above labor, in 
the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is 
available only in connexion with capital ; that nobody labors 
unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use 
of it, induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next consider- 
ed whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus 
induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and 
drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so 
far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired 
laborers, or what we call slaves. And further it is assumed 
that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fixed in that condition 
for life. 

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as 
assumed ; nor is there any such thing as a free man being 
fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these 
assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are 

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is 
only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor 
had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and de- 
serves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, 
which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is 
it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation 
between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The 


error is in assuming that the whole labor of community 
exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that 
few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or 
buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong 
to neither class - neither work for others, nor have others 
working for them. In most of the southern States, a majority 
of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor mas- 
ters ; while in the northern a large majority are neither hirers 
nor hired. Men with their families - wives, sons, and daugh- 
ters - work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, 
and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, 
and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hired 
laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a con- 
siderable number of persons mingle their own labor with 
capital - that is, they labor with their own hands, and also 
buy or hire others to labor for them ; but this is only a mixed, 
and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by 
the existence of this mixed class. 

Again : as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, 
any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that 
condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in 
these States, a few years back in their lives, were hired labor- 
ers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors 
for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or 
land for himself; then labors on his own account another 
while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. 
This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which 
opens the way to all - gives hope to all, and consequent 
energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. 
No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who 
toil up from poverty - none less inclined to take, or touch, 
aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware 
of surrendering a political power which they already possess, 


and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the 
door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new 
disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be 
lost. l 

Lincoln's Determination 
I am a patient man - always willing to forgive on the Chris- 
tian terms of repentance ; and also to give ample time for 
repentance. Still I must save this government if possible. 
What I cannot do, of course I mil not do ; but it may as well 
be understood once for all, that I shall not surrender this 
game leaving any available card unplayed. 2 

On America's Democratic Responsibility 
I have received the new year's address which you have sent 
me with a sincere appreciation of the exalted and humane 
sentiments by which it was inspired. 

As those sentiments are manifestly the enduring support 
of the free institutions of England, so I am sure also that they 
constitute the only reliable basis for free institutions through- 
out the world. 

The resource, advantages, and powers of the American 
people are very great, and they have, consequently, succeed- 
ed to equally great responsibilities. It seems to have devolv- 
ed upon them to test whether a government established on 
the principles of human freedom, can be maintained against 
an effort to build upon the exclusive foundation of human 

They will rejoice with me in the new evidences which your 
proceedings furnish, that the magnanimity they are exhibit- 
ing is justly estimated by the true friends of freedom and 
humanity in foreign countries. 

1 Annual Message to Congress, 1 2/3/61, V, 51-53. 

2 To Reverdy Johnson, 7/26/62, V, 343. 


Accept my best wishes for your individual welfare, and 
for the welfare and happiness of the whole British people. ' 

"Government of the People, by the People, for the People" 
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth 
on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, 
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether 
that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can 
long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. 
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final 
resting place for those w r ho here gave their lives that that nation 
might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should 
do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not 
consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, 
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far 
above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little 
note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never 
forget v/hat they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be 
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought 
here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be 
here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that 
from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that 
cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - 
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have 
died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a 
new birth of freeedom - and that government of the 
people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from 
the earth. 2 

1 To the Workingmen of London, 2/2/63, VI, 88-89. 

2 Gettysburg Address, 11/19/63, VII, 23. 


Soldiers Fight for All Time to Come 
I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. 
For the service you have done in this great struggle in which 
we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and 
the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to 
say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief 
remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not 
merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should 
perpetuate for our children's children this great and free gov- 
ernment, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to 
remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I hap- 
pen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a liv- 
ing witness that any one of your children may look to come 
here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you 
may have through this free government which we have en- 
joyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enter- 
prise and intelligence ; that you may all have equal privileges 
in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It 
is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not 
lose our birthright - not only for one, but for two or three 
years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an ines- 
timable jewel. 1 

"Nowhere in the World" 
Soldiers of the 148 th Ohio : - I am most happy to meet you 
on this occasion. I understand that it has been your honorable 
privilege to stand, for a brief period, in the defense of your 
country, and that now you are on your way to your homes. 
I congratulate you, and those who are waiting to bid you 
welcome home from the war ; and permit me, in the name of 
the people, to thank you for the part you have taken in this 
struggle for the life of the nation. You are soldiers of the Re- 

1 Speech to One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment, 8/22/64, VII, 512. 


public, everywhere honored and respected. Whenever I ap- 
pear before a body of soldiers, I feel tempted to talk to them 
of the nature of the struggle in which we are engaged. I look 
upon it as an attempt on the one hand to overwhelm and 
destroy the national existence, while, on our part, we are striv- 
ing to maintain the government and institutions of our fa- 
thers, to enjoy them ourselves, and transmit them to our 
children and our children's children forever. 

To do this the constitutional administration of our govern- 
ment must be sustained, and I beg of you not to allow your 
minds os your hearts to be diverted from the support of all 
necessary measures for that purpose, by any miserable pica- 
yune arguments addressed to your pockets, or inflammatory 
appeals made to your passions or your prejudices. 

It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that for the part 
he has taken, or has not taken, and to hold the government 
responsible for his acts. In no administration can there be 
perfect equality of action and uniform satisfaction rendered 
by all. But this government must be preserved in spite of the 
acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy your every effort. 
Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much 
liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst 
us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The 
present moment finds me at the White House, yet there 
is as good a chance for your children as there was for my 

Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern 
purpose of defending your beloved country and its free insti- 
tutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing 
men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag. Soldiers, 
I bid you God-speed to your homes. l 

1 Speech to One Hundred Forty-eighth Ohio Regiment, 8/31/64, VII, 


We are not enemies 
Fellow citizens of the United States : 

In compliance with a custom as old as the government it- 
self, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, 
in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of 
the United States, to be taken by the President "before he 
enters on the execution of his office." 

I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss 
those matters of administration about which there is no spe- 
cial anxiety, or excitement. 

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the 
Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Admi- 
nistration, their property, and their peace, and personal secu- 
rity, are to be endangered. There has never been any reason- 
able cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample 
evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been 
open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published 
speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from 
one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, 
directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slav- 
ery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful 
right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Those 
who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge 
that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had 
never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the 
platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and 
to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read : 

" Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of 
the States, and especially the right of each State to order and 
control its own domestic institutions according to its own 
judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power 
on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric 
depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed 


force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under 
what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes." 

I now reiterate these sentiments : and in doing so, I only 
press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence 
of which the case is suceptible, that the property, peace and 
security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the 
now incoming Administration. I add too, that all the protec- 
tion which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, 
can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when 
lawfully demanded, for whatever cause - as cheerfully to one 
section, as to another. 

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fu- 
gitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as 
plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provi- 
sions : 

"No person held to service or labor in one State, under 
the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence 
of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such 
service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the 
party to whom such service or labor may be due." 

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended 
by those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fu- 
gitive slaves ; and the intention of the law-giver is the law. 
All members of Congress swear their support to the whole 
Constitution - to this provision as much as to any other. To 
the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within 
the terms of this clause, "shall be delivered up," their oaths 
are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good 
temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame 
and pass a law, by means of which to keep good that unani- 
mous oath ? 

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause 
should be enforced by national or by state authority; but 


surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave 
is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to 
him, or to others, by which authority it is done. And should 
any one, in any case, be content that his oath shall go unkept, 
on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be 

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safe- 
guards of liberty known in civilized and human jurispru- 
dence to be introduced, so that a free man be not, in any case, 
surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well, at the same 
time, to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in 
the Constitution which guarranties that "The citizens of 
each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities 
of citizens in the several States?" 

I take the official oath today, with no mental reservations, 
and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws, by 
any hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to 
specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, 
I do suggest, that it will be much safer for all, both in official 
and private stations, to conform to, and abide by, all those 
acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, 
trusting to find impunity in having them held to be uncon- 

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a 
President under our national Constitution. During that pe- 
riod fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens, have, 
in succession, administered the executive branch of the gov- 
ernment. They have conducted it through many perils ; and, 
generally, with great success. Yet, with all this scope for pre- 
cedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief consti- 
tutional term of four years, under great and peculiar diffi- 
culty. A disruption of the Federal Union heretofore only 
menaced, is now formidably attempted. 


I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the 
Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpe- 
tuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of 
all national governments. It is safe to assert that no govern- 
ment proper, ever had a provision in its organic law for its 
own termination. Continue to execute all the express provi- 
sions of our national Constitution, and the Union will en- 
dure forever - it being impossible to destroy it, except by 
some action not provided for in the instrument itself. 

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, 
but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, 
can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade, by less than all the 
parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it - 
break it, so to speak ; but does it not require all to lawfully 
rescind it? 

Descending from these general principles, we find the pro- 
position that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, 
confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is 
much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by 
the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and con- 
tinued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was 
further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen States 
expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, 
by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, 
one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the 
Constitution, was "toforrn a more perfect unionT 

But if destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, 
of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect 
than before the Consitution, having lost the vital element of 

It follows from these views that no State, upon its own 
mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, - that resol- 
ves and ordinances to that effect are legally void ; and that 


acts of violence, within any State or States, against the author- 
ity of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, 
according to circumstances. 

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and 
the laws, the Union is unbroken ; and, to the extent of my abil- 
ity, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly en- 
joins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully exe- 
cuted in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple 
duty on my part ; and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, 
unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall with- 
hold the requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, 
direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a 
menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that 
it will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself. 

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence ; 
and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national 
authority. The power confided to me, will be used to hold, 
occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to 
the government, and to collect the duties and imposts ; but 
beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will 
be no invasion - no using of force against, or among the 
people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States, in 
any interior locality, shall be so great and so universal, as to 
prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal 
offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers 
among the people for that object. While the strict legal right 
may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these 
offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so 
nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to forego, 
for the time, the uses of such offices. 

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished 
in all parts of the Union. So far as possible, the people every- 
where shall have that sense of perfect security which is most 


favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here in- 
dicated will be followed, unless current events, and expe- 
rience, shall show a modification, or change, to be proper; 
and in every case and exigency, my best discretion will be 
exercised, according to circumstances actually existing, and 
with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national 
troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and 

That there are persons in one section, or another who seek 
to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pre- 
text to do it, I will neither affirm or deny ; but if there be 
such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, 
who really love the Union, may I not speak? 

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction 
of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and 
its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we 
do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any 
possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from, have no 
real existence ? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to, are 
greater than all the real ones you fly from? Will you risk the 
commission of so fearful a mistake ? 

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional 
rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, 
plainly written in the Constitution, has been denied ? I think 
not. Happily the human mind is so constituted, that no party 
can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of 
a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the 
Constitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of 
numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly 
written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of 
view, justify revolution - certainly would, if such right were 
a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of 
minorities, and of individuals, are so plainly assured to them, 


by affirmations and negations, guarranties and prohibitions, 
in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning 
them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provi- 
sion specifically applicable to every question which may occur 
in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor 
any document of reasonable length contain express provi- 
sions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be 
surrendered by national or by State authority ? The Consti- 
tution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery 
in the territories? The constitution does not expressly say. 
Must Congress protect slavery in the territories? The Con- 
stitution does not expressly say. 

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional 
controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and 
minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority 
must, or the government must cease. There is no other alter- 
native; for continuing the government, is acquiescence on 
one side or the other. If a minority, in such case, will secede 
rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, 
will divide and ruin them ; for a minority of their own will 
secede from them, whenever a majority refuses to be control- 
led by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion 
of a new confederacy, a year or two hence, arbitrarily secede 
again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim 
to secede from it. All who cherish disunion sentiments, are 
now being educated to the exact temper of doing this. Is 
there such perfect identity of interests among the States to 
compose a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and 
prevent renewed secession ? 

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of an- 
archy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks, 
and limitations, and always changing easily, with deliberate 
changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true 


sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does, of ne- 
cessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impos- 
sible ; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is 
wholly inadmissable ; so that, rejecting the majority principle, 
anarchy, or despotism in some form, is all that is left. 

I do no forget the position assumed by some, that consti- 
tutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court ; 
nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any 
case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, 
while they are also entitled to very high respect and consider- 
ation, in all parallel cases, by all other departments of the 
government. And while it is obviously possible that such de- 
cision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect 
following it, being limited to that particular case, with the 
chance that it may be over-ruled, and never become a prece- 
dent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils 
of a different practice. At the same time the candid citizen 
must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital 
questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably 
fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they 
are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal 
actions, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, 
having, to that extent, practically resigned their government, 
into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there, in this 
view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It is a duty, 
from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly 
brought before them ; and it is no fault of theirs, if others seek 
to turn their decisions to political purposes. 

One section of our country believes slavery is right y and 
ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, 
and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial 
dispute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and 
the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade, are 


each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a 
community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly 
supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide 
by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break 
over in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured ; and it 
would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sec- 
tions, than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly 
suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction, 
in one section ; while fugitive slaves, now only partially sur- 
rendered, would not be surrendered at all, by the other. 

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot re- 
move our respective sections from each other, nor build an 
impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be 
divorced, and go out of the presence, and beyond the reach 
of each other ; but the different parts of our country cannot 
do this. They cannot but remain face to face ; and intercourse, 
either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it 
possible then to make that intercourse more advantageous, 
or more satisfactory, after separation than before ? Can aliens 
make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties 
be more faithfully enforced between aliens, than laws can 
among friends ? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight al- 
ways ; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain 
on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as 
to terms of intercourse, are again upon you. 

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people 
who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the exi- 
sting government, they can exercise their constitutional right 
of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or 
overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many 
worthy, and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the na- 
tional constitution amended. While I make no recommenda- 
tion of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority 


of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in 
either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and 
I should, under existing circumstances, favor, rather than 
oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to 
act upon it. 

I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode 
seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to orginate 
with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them 
to take, or reject, propositions, originated by others, not 
especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be 
precisely such, as they would wish to either accept or refuse. 
I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution - 
which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed 
Congress, to the effect that the federal government, shall 
never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, 
including that of persons held to service. To avoid miscon- 
struction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not 
to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, hol- 
ding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, 
I have no objection to its being made express, and irrevo- 

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the 
people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms 
for the separation of the States. The people themselves can 
do this also if they choose ; but the executive, as such, has 
nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present 
government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, un- 
impaired by him, to his successor. 

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ulti- 
mate justice of the people ? Is there any better, or equal hope, 
in the world ? In our present differences, is either party with- 
out faith of being in the right? If the Almight Ruler of na- 
tions, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of 



the North, or on yours of the South, that truth, and that ju- 
stice, will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tri- 
bunal, the American people. 

By the frame of the government under which we live, this 
same people have wisely given their public servants but little 
power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided 
for the return of that little to their own hands at very short 
intervals . 

While the people retain their virtue, and vigilence, no 
administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can 
very seriously injure the government, in the short space of 
four years. 

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon 
this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking 
time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, 
to a step which you would never take deliberately 9 that ob- 
ject will be frustrated by taking time ; but no good object can 
be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still 
have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive 
point, the laws of your own framing under it ; while the new 
administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to 
change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatis- 
fied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single 
good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, 
Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet 
forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in 
the best way, all our present difficulty. 

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not 
in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government 
will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being 
yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in 
Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the 
most solemn one to "preserve, protect and defend" it. 


I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We 
must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it 
must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of 
memory, streching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, 
to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, 
will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, 
as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. 2 

2 First Inaugural Address, 3/4/61, IV, 262-271. 


On Temperance as Liberty 
It is not much in the nature of man to be driven to any thing ; 
still less to be driven about that which is exclusively his own 
business ; and least of all, where such driving is to be submitted 
to, at the expense of pecuniary interest, or burning appetite.... 

If the relative grandeur of revolutions shall be estimated 
by the great amount of human misery they alleviate, and the 
small amount they inflict, then, indeed, will this [temperance 
revolution] be the grandest the world shall ever have seen. Of 
our political revolution of '76, we all are justly proud. It has 
given us a degreee of political freedom, far exceeding that of 
any other of the nations of the earth. In it the world has found 
a solution of that long mooted problem, as to the capability 
of man to govern himself. In it was the germ which has vege- 
tated, and still is to grow and expand into the universal liber- 
ty of mankind. 

But with all these glorious results, past, present, and to 
come, it had its evils too. It breathed forth famine, swam in 
blood and rode on fire ; and long, long after, the orphan's cry, 
and the widow's wail, continued to break the sad silence that 
ensued. These were the price, the inevitable price, paid for 
the blessings it bought. 

Turn now, to the temperance revolution. In it, we shall 
find a stronger bondage broken ; a viler slavery, manumit- 
ted; a greater tyrant deposed. 1 

On Popular Sovreignty and Liberty 
Thus, with the author of the declaration of Independence, 
1 Temperance Address, 2/22/42, I, 272-279. 


the policy of prohibiting slavery in new territory orginated. 
Thus, away back of the constitution, in the pure fresh, free 
breath of the revolution, the State of Virginia, and the Na- 
tional congress put that policy in practice. Thus through 
sixthy odd of the best years of the republic did that policy 
steadily work to its great and beneficent end.... But now new 
light breaks upon us. Now congress declares this ought never 
to have been ; and the like of it, must never be again. The 
sacred right of self government is grossly violated by it ! We 
even find some men, who drew their first breath and every 
other breath of their lives, under this very restriction, now 
live in dread of absolute suffocation, if they should be restric- 
ted in the "sacred right" of taking slaves to Nebraska. That 
perfect liberty they sigh for - the liberty of making slaves of 
other people - Jefferson never thought of; their own father 
never thought of; they never thought of themselves, a year 
ago. How fortunate for them, they did not sooner become 
sensible of their great misery ! Oh, how difficult it is to treat 
with respect, such assaults upon all we have ever really held 
sacred . 1 

I insist, that if there is any thing which it is the duty of the 
whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own, 
that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own 
liberties and institutions. And if they shall think, as I do, 
that the extension of slavery endangers them, more than 
any, or all other causes, how recreant to themselves, if 
they submit the question, and with it, the fate of their 
country, to a mere hand-full of men, bent only on tem- 
porary self-interest. If this question of slavery extension were 
an insignificant one - one having no power to do harm - 
it might be shuffled aside in this way. But being, as it is, the 
1 Speech at Peoria, 111., 10/16/54, II, 249-250. 


great Behemoth of danger, shall the strong gripe of the na- 
tion be loosened upon him, to entrust him to the hands of 
such feeble keepers ? l 

On the Bulwark of American Liberty 
My friends, I have endeavored to show you the logical con- 
sequences of the Dred Scott decision, which holds that the 
people of a Territory cannot prevent the establishment of 
Slavery in their midst. I have stated what cannot be gainsayed 
- that the grounds upon which this decision is made are 
equally applicable to the Free States as to the Free Territor- 
ies, and that the peculiar reasons put forth by Judge Doug- 
las for endorsing this decision, commit him in advance to 
the next decision, and to all other decisions emanating from 
the same source. Now, when by all these means you have 
succeeded in dehumanizing the negro ; when you have put 
him down, and made it forever impossible for him to be but 
as the beasts of the field ; when you have extinguished his 
soul, and placed him where the ray of hope is blown out in 
darkness like that which broods over the spirits of the dam- 
ned ; are you quite sure the demon which you have roused 
will not turn and rend you? What constitutes the bulwark of 
our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning 
battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war 
steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. 
These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny 
in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liber- 
ties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. 
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted 
in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit 
which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, 
every where. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the 

1 Speech at Peoria, 111., 10/16/54, II, 270. 


seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize your- 
selves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing 
your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the 
rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your 
own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first 
cunning tyrant who rises. And let me tell you, all these things 
are prepared for you with the logic of history, if the elections 
shall promise that the next Dred Scott decision and all future 
decisions will be quietly acquiesced in by the people. - 
[Loud applause.] l 

On Liberty and Racial Equality 
Now a few words in regard to these extracts from speeches 
of mine, which Judge Douglas has read to you, and which he 
supposes are in very great contrast to each other. Those speech- 
es have been before the public for a considerable time, and 
if they have any inconsistency in them, if there is any conflict 
in them the public have been able to detect it. When the 
Judge says, in speaking on this subject, that I make speeches 
of one sort for the people of the Northern end of the State, 
and of a different sort for the Southern people, he assumes 
that I do not understand that my speeches will be put in 
print and read North and South. I knew all the while that the 
speech that I made at Chicago and the one I made at Jonesboro 
and the one at Charleston, would all be put in print and 
all the reading and intelligent men in the community would 
see them and know all about my opinions. And I have not 
supposed, and do not now suppose, that there is any conflict 
whatever between them. ["They are all good speeches!" 
"Hurrah for Lincoln !"] But the Judge will have it that if we 
do not confess that there is a sort of inequality between the 
white and black races, which justifies us in making them slav- 

1 Speech at Edwards ville, 111., 9/1 1/58, III 95-96. 


es, we must, then, insist that there is a degree of equality 
that requires us to make them our wives. [Loud applause, 
and cries, "Give it to him" ; "Hit him again."] Now, I have 
all the while taken a broad distinction in regard to that mat- 
ter ; and that is all there is in these different speeches which 
he arrays here, and the entire reading of either of the speeches 
will show that that distinction was made. Perhaps by taking 
two parts of the speech, he could have got up as much of a 
conflict as the one he has found. I have ail the while maintain- 
ed, that in so far as it should be insisted that there was an 
equality between the white and black races that should pro- 
duce a perfect social and political equality, it w r as an impos- 
sibility. This you have seen in my printed speeches, and with 
it I have said, that in their right to "life, liberty and the pur- 
suit of happiness," as proclaimed in that old Declaration, the 
inferior races are our equals. [Long-continued cheering.] 
And these declarations I have constantly made in reference 
to the abstract moral question, to contemplate and consider 
when we are legislating about any new country which is not 
already cursed with the actual presence of the evil - slavery. 
I have never manifested any impatience with the necessities 
that spring from the actual presence of black people amongst 
us, and the actual existence of slavery amongst us where it 
does already exist ; but I have insisted that, in legislating for 
new countries, where it does not exist, there is no just rule 
other than that of moral and abstract right ! With reference 
to those new countries, those maxims as to the right of a 
people to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," were 
the just rules to be constantly referred to. There is no misun- 
derstanding this, except by men interested to misunderstand 
it. [Applause.] I take it that I have to address an intelligent 
and reading community, who will peruse what I say, weigh 
it, and then judge whether I advance improper or unsound 



views, or whether I advance hypocritical, and deceptive, and 
contrary views in different portions of the country. I believe 
myself to be guilty of no such thing as the latter, though, of 
course, I cannot claim that I am entirely free from all error in 
the opinions I advance. I 

Ladies and Gentlemen - Calling to mind that we are in 
Baltimore, we can not fail to note that the world moves. 
Looking upon these many people, assembled here, to serve, 
as they best may, the soldiers of the Union, it occurs at once 
that three years ago, the same soldiers could not so much as 
pass through Baltimore. The change from then till now, is 
both great, and gratifying. Blessings on the brave men who 
have wrought the change, and the fair women who strive to 
reward them for it. 

But Baltimore suggests more than could happen within 
Baltimore. The change within Baltimore is part only of a far 
wider change. When the war began, three years ago, neither 
party, nor any man, expected it would last till now. Each 
looked for the end, in some way, long ere to-day. Neither did 
any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much affected 
by the war. But here we are ; the war has not ended, and slav- 
ery has been much affected - how much needs not now to 
be recounted. So true is it that man proposes, and God dis- 

But we can see the past, though we may not claim to have 
directed it ; and seeing it, in this case, we feel more hopeful 
and confident for the future. 

The world has never had a good definition of the word lib- 
erty, and the American people, just now, are much in want 
of one. We all declare for liberty ; but in using the same word 

1 Debate at Galesburg, 10/7/58, III, 221-222. 


we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word lib- 
erty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with him- 
self, and the product of his labor ; while with others the same 
word may mean for some men to do as they please with other 
men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two not 
only different, but incompatible things, called by the same 
name - liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by 
the respective parties, called by two different and incompat- 
ible names - liberty and tyranny. 

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for 
which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the 
wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of lib- 
erty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the 
sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the 
word liberty ; and precisely the same difference prevails to- 
day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all 
professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by 
which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of 
bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and be- 
wailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as 
it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing something 
to define liberty ; and thanks to them that, in what they have 
done, the wolf's dictionary has been repudiated. 

1 Address at Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, 4/18/64, VII, 301-302. 


To the Voters of the Seventh Congressional District 

fellow citizens : A charge having got into circulation in some 
of the neighborhoods of this District, in substance that I am 
an open scoffer at Christianity, I have by the advice of some 
friends concluded to notice the subject in this form. That I 
am not a member of any Christian Church, is true ; but I have 
never denied the truth of the Scriptures ; and I have never 
spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of 
any denomination of Christians in particular. It is true that 
in early life I was inclined to believe in what I understand is 
called the "Doctrine of Necessity" - that is, that the human 
mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, 
over which the mind itself has no control ; and I have some- 
times (with one, two or three, but never publicly) tried to 
maintain this opinion in argument. The habit of arguing thus, 
however, I have entirely left off for more than five years. And 
I add here, I have always understood this same opinion to be 
held by several of the Christian denominations. The fore- 
going, is the whole truth, briefly stated, in relation to myself, 
upon this subject. 

I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man 
for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer 
at, religion. Leaving the higher matter of eternal consequen- 
ces, between him and his Maker, I still do not think any man 
has the right thus to insult the feelings, and injure the morals, 
of the community in which he may live. If, then, I was 
guilty of such conduct, I should blame no man who should 
condemn me for it; but I do blame those, whoever they 


may be, who falsely put such a charge in circulation against 
me. 1 

On Government and Churches 

I have written before, and now repeat, the United States 
Government must not undertake to run the churches. When 
an individual in a church or out of it becomes dangerous to 
the public interest he must be checked, but the churches as 
such must take care of themselves. It will not do for the Unit- 
ed States to appoint trustees, supervisors, or other agents 
for the churches. I add if the military have military need of 
the church building, let them keep it ; otherwise let them get 
out of it, and leave it and its owners alone except for causes 
that justifiy the arrest of any one. 2 

On the Bible 
This occasion would seem fitting for a lenghty response to the 
address which you have just made. I would make one, if pre- 
pared ; but I am not. I would promise to respond in writing, 
had not experience taught me that business will not allow me 
to do so. I can only now say, as I have often before said, it has 
always been a sentiment with me that all mankind should be 
free. So far as able, within my sphere, I have always acted as 
I believed to be right and just ; and I have done all I could for 
the good of mankind generally. In letters and documents sent 
from this office I have expressed myself better than I now 
can. In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the 
best gift God has given to man. 

All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communi- 
cated through this book. But for it we could not know right 
from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, 

1 Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity, 7/31/46, 1, 382. 

2 Memorandum about Churches, 3/4/64, VII, 223. 


here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. To you I 
return my most sincere thanks for the very elegant copy of 
the great Book of God which you present. I 

1 Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a 
Bible, 9/7/64, VII, 542. 


Free and Slave Labor 
He said it was agreed, on every hand, that labor was the great 
source from whence all our comforts and necessaries were 
derived. There is a difference of opinion among political eco- 
nomists, about the elements of labor in society. Some men 
say that there is a necessary connection between labor and ca- 
pital, and this connection draws within it the whole of the 
labor of the community. They assume that nobody works 
unless capital excites them to work. They say there are but 
two ways : the one is to hire men, and to allow them to labor 
by their own consent ; the other is to buy the men and drive 
them to it, and that is slavery. Assuming that, they proceed 
to discuss the question of whether the laborers themselves 
are better off in the condition of slaves or of hired laborers. 
They generally decide that they are better off as slaves. They 
have no responsibility on them then, and when they get old, 
they are taken care of. In the State of Indiana, of all that is 
produced, seven-eighths of it is produced by the hands of men 
who work upon their own ground ; and no more than one- 
eighth is produced by hired men. The condition of the hired 
man was not worse than that of the slave. 

The speaker himself had been a hired man twenty-eight 
years ago. He didn't think he was worse off than a slave. He 
might not be doing as much good as he could, but he was now 
working for himself. He thought the whole thing was a mis- 
take. There was a certain relation between capital and labor, 
and it was proper that it existed. Men who were industrious 
and sober, and honest in the pursuit of their own interests, 


should after a while accumulate capital, and after that should 
be allowed to enjoy it in peace, and if they chose, when they 
had accumulated capital, to use it to save themselves from 
actual labor and hire other people to labor for them, it was 
right. They did not wrong the man they employed, for they 
found men who have not their own land to work upon or 
shops to work in, and who were benefitted by working for 
them as hired laborers, receiving their capital for it. 

If a hired laborer worked as a true man, he saved means to 
buy land of his own, a shop of his own, and to increase his 
property. For a new beginner, this was the true, genuine 
principle of free labor. A few men that own capital, hire 
others, and thus establish the relation of capital and labor 
rightfully. The hired laborer, with his ability to become an 
employer, must have every precedence over him who labors 
under the inducement of force. 1 

On Capital and Labor 
A few men own capital ; and that few avoid labor themselves, 
and with their capital, hire, or buy, another few to labor for 
them. A large majority belong to neither class - neither work 
for others, nor have others working for them. Even in all our 
slave States, except South Carolina, a majority of the whole 
people of all colors, are neither slaves nor masters. In these 
Free States, a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, 
with their families - wives, sons and daughters - work for 
themselves, on their farms, in their houses and in their shops, 
taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors 
of capital on the one hand, nor of hirelings or slaves on the 
other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of per- 
sons mingle their own labor with capital ; that is, labor with 
their own hands, and also buy slaves or hire freemen to labor 

Speech at Indianapolis, 9/19/59, III, 468-469. 


for them ; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No 
principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed 
class. Again, as has already been said, the opponents of the 
"mud-sill" theory insist that there is not, of necessity, any 
such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condi- 
tion for life. There is demonstration for saying this. Many in- 
dependent men, in this assembly, doubtless a few years ago 
were hired laborers. And their case is almost if not quite the 
general rule. 

The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for 
wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land, 
for himself; then labors on his own account another while, 
and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This, 
say its advocates, is free labor - the just and generous, and 
prosperous system, which opens the way for all - gives hope 
to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condi- 
tion to all. If any continue through life in the condition of the 
hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of 
either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, 
folly, or singular misfortune. * 

On Unity of Working People 
None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion 
as the w r orking people. Let them beware of prejudice, work- 
ing division and hostility among themselves. The most not- 
able feature of a disturbance in your city last summer, was 
the hanging of some working people by other working people. 
It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sym- 
pathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting 
all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. 
Nor should this lead to a war upon property, or the owners 

1 Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, 
9/30/59, III, 478-479- 


of property. Property is the fruit of labor - property is de- 
sirable - is a positive good in the world. That some should be 
rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just 
encouragement to industry and enterprize. Let not him who 
is houseless pull down the house of another ; but let him la- 
bor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example 
assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built. l 

1 Reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Associa- 
tion, 3/21/64, VII, 259-260. 


On the Absurdity of Disunion 
I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know, now, 
when that thing takes place, what you mean to do. I often 
hear it intimated that you mean to divide the Union when- 
ever a Republican, or anything like it, is elected President of 
the United States. [A voice, "That is so."] "That is so," one 
of them says. I wonder if he is a Kentuckian? [A voice, "He 
is a Douglas man."] Well, then, I want to know what you are 
going to do with your half of it ? [Applause and laughter.] 
Are you going to split the Ohio down through, and push 
your half off a piece? Or are you going to keep it right along- 
side of us outrageous fellows? Or are you going to build up a 
wall some way between your country and ours, by which that 
moveable property of yours can't come over here any more, 
to the danger of losing it ? Do you think you can better your- 
selves on that subject, by leaving us here under no obligation 
whatever to return those specimens of your moveable prop- 
erty that come hither ? You have divided the Union because 
we would not do right with you as you think, upon that sub- 
ject ; when we cease to be under obligations to do anything 
for you, how much better off do you think you will be ? Will 
you make war upon us and kill us all? Why, gentlemen, I 
think you are as gallant and as brave men as live ; that you 
can fight as bravely in a good cause, man for man, as any other 
people living ; that you have shown yourselves capable of this 
upon various occassions ; but, man for man, you are not bet- 
ter than we are, and there are not so many of you as there are 
of us. [Loud cheering.] You will never make much of a hand 
at whipping us. If we were fewer in numbers than you, I 


think that you could whip us ; if we were equal it would likely 
be a drawn battle ; but being inferior in numbers, you will 
make nothing by attempting to master us. l 

On Foreign Intervention 
A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the 
whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy 
the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic divi- 
sion, is exposed to disrespect abroad ; and one party, if not 
both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention. 

Nations, thus tempted to interfere, are not always able to 
resist the counsels of seeming expediency, and ungenerous 
ambition, although measures adopted under such influences 
seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting 
them. 2 

On the War, After the Peninsula Failure 
My view of the present condition of the War is about as fol- 

The evacuation of Corinth, and our delay by the flood 
in the Chicahominy, has enabled the enemy to concentrate 
too much force in Richmond for McClellan to successfully 
attack. In fact there soon will be no substantial rebel force 
any where else. But if we send all the force from here to 
McClellan, the enemy will, before we can know of it, send a 
force from Richmond and take Washington. Or, if a large 
part of the Western Army be brought here to McClellan, 
they will let us have Richmond, and retake Tennessee, Ken- 
tucky, Missouri &c. What should be done is to hold what we 
have in the West, open the Mississippi, and, take Chatanooga 
& East Tennessee, without more - a reasonable force should, 
in every event, be kept about Washington for it's protection. 

1 Speech at Cincinnati, 9/17/59, III, 453-454. 

2 Annual Message to Congress, 1 2/3/61, V, 36. 


Then let the country give us a hundred thousand new troops 
in the shortest possible time, which added to McClellan, di- 
rectly or indirectly, will take Richmond, without endange- 
ring any other place which we now hold - and will substan- 
tially end the war. I expect to maintain this contest until suc- 
cessful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or 
Congress or the country forsakes me ; and I would publicly 
appeal to the country for this new force, were it not I fear a 
general panic and stampede would follow - so hard is it to 
have a thing understood as it really is. I think the new force 
should be all, or nearly all infantry, principally because such 
can be raised most cheaply and quickly. l 

On Neutralism 
Sir : The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr. Thom- 
as J.Durant, has been shown to me. The writer appears to 
be an able, a dispassionate, and an entirely sincere man. The 
first part of the letter is devoted to an effort to show r that the 
Secession Ordinance of Louisiana was adopted against the 
will of a majority of the people. This is probably true ; and in 
that fact may be found some instruction. Why did they allow 
the Ordinance to go into effect? Why did they not assert 
themselves ? Why stand passive and allow themselves to be 
trodden down by a minority ? Why did they not hold popular 
meetings, and have a convention of their own, to express and 
enforce the true sentiment of the state ? If preorganization 
was against them then, why not do this now, that the United 
States Army is present to protect them? The paralysis - the 
dead palsy - of the government in this whole struggle is, that 
this class of men will do nothing for the government, nothing 
for themselves, except demanding that the government shall 
not strike its open enemies, lest they be struck by accident ! 

1 To W.H. Seward, 6/28/62, V, 291-292. 


Mr. Durant complains that in various ways the relation of 
master and slave is disturbed by the presence of our Army ; 
and he considers it particularly vexatious that this, in part, is 
done under cover of an act of Congress, while constitutional 
guaranties are suspended on the plea of military necessity. 
The truth is, that what is done, and omitted, about slaves, is 
done and omitted on the same military necessity. It is a mili- 
tary necessity to have men and money ; and we can get nei- 
ther, in sufficient numbers, or amounts, if we keep from, or 
drive from, our lines, slaves coming to them. Mr. Durant 
cannot be ignorant of the pressure in this direction ; nor of 
my efforts to hold it within bounds till he, and such as he 
shall have time to help themselves. 

I am not posted to speak understanding^ on all the 
police regulations of which Mr. Durant complains. If 
experience shows any one of them to be wrong, let them be 
set right. I think I can perceive, in the freedom of trade, 
which Mr. Durant urges, that he would relieve both friends 
and enemies from the pressure of the blockade. By this he 
would serve the enemy more effectively than the enemy is 
able to serve himself. I do not say or believe that to serve the 
enemy is the purpose of Mr. Durant ; or that he is conscious 
of any purpose, other than national and patriotic ones. Still, 
if there were a class of men who, having no choice of sides 
in the contest, were anxious only to have quiet and comfort 
for themselves while it rages, and to fall in with the victorious 
side at the end of it, without loss to themselves, their advice 
as to the mode of conducting the contest would be precisely 
such as his is. He speaks of no duty - apparently thinks of 
none - resting upon Union men. He even thinks it injurious 
to the Union cause that they should be restrained in trade and 
passage without taking sides. They are to touch neither a sail 
nor a pump, but to be merely passengers, - dead-heads at 


that - to be carried snug and dry, throughout the storm, and 
safely landed right side up. Nay, more ; even a mutineer is to 
go untouched lest these sacred passengers receive an acci- 
dental wound. 

Of course the rebellion will never be suppressed in Loui- 
siana, if the professed Union men there will neither help to 
do it, nor permit the government to do it without their help. 

Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what 
is suggested by Mr. Durant. It does not lie in rounding the 
rough angles of the war, but in removing the necessity for the 
war. The people of Louisiana who wish protection to person 
and property, have but to reach forth their hands and take it. 
Let them, in good faith, reinaugurate the national authority, 
and set up a State Government conforming thereto under 
the constitution. They know to do it, and can have the pro- 
tection of the Army while doing it. The Army will be with- 
drawn so soon as such State government can dispense with its 
presence ; and the people of the State can then upon the old 
Constitutional terms, govern themselves to their own liking. 
This is very simple and easy. 

If they will not do this, if they prefer to hazard all for the 
sake of destroying the government, it is for them to consider 
whether it is probable I will surrender the government to 
save them from losing all. If they decline what I suggest, you 
scarcely need to ask what I will do. What would you do in 
my position ? Would you drop the war where it is ? Or, would 
you prosecute it in future, with elder-stalk squirts, charged 
with rose water? Would you deal lighter blows rather than 
heavier ones? Would you give up the contest, leaving any 
available means unapplied. 

I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do more than I can, 
and I shall do all I can to save the government, which is my 
sworn duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall do no- 


thing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious 
dealing. l 

Lincoln Discusses the War with a Swiss Scholar 
Dear Sir : Your very acceptable letter dated Orbe, Canton de 
Vaud, Switzerland 18 th of July 1862 is received. The moral 
eifect was the worst of the affair before Richmond ; and that 
has run its course downward ; we are now at a stand, and shall 
soon be rising again, as we hope. I believe it is true that in 
men and material, the enemy suffered more than we, in that 
series of conflicts ; while it is certain he is less able to bear it. 

With us every soldier is a man of character and must be 
treated with more consideration than is customary in Europe. 
Hence our great army for slighter causes than could have 
prevailed there has dwindled rapidly, bringing the necessity 
for a new call, earlier than was anticipated. We shall easily 
obtain the new levy, however. Be not alarmed if you shall 
learn that we shall have resorted to a draft for part of this. It 
seems strange, even to me, but it is true, that the Govern- 
ment is now pressed to this course by a popular demand. 
Thousands who wish not to personally enter the service are 
nevertheless anxious to pay and send substitutes, provided 
they can have assurance that unwilling persons similarly sit- 
uated will be compelled to do like wise. Besides this, volun- 
teers mostly choose to enter newly forming regiments, while 
drafted men can be sent to fill up the old ones, wherein, man 
for man, they are quite doubly as valuable. 

You ask "why is it that the North with her great armies, 
so often is found, with inferiority of numbers, face to face 
with the armies of the South?" While I painfully know the 
fact, a military man, which I am not, would better answer 
the question. The fact I know, has not been overlooked ; and 

1 To Cuthbert Bullitt, 7/28/62, V, 344-346. 


I suppose the cause of its continuance lies mainly in the other 
facts that the enemy holds the interior, and we the exterior 
lines ; and that we operate where the people convey informa- 
tion to the enemy, while he operates where they convey none 
to us. 

I have received the volume and letter which you did me 
the honor of addressing to me, and for which please accept 
my sincere thanks. You are much admired in America for the 
ability of your writings, and much loved for your generosity 
to us, and your devotion to liberal principles generally. 

You are quite right, as to the importance to us, for its 
bearing upon Europe, that we should achieve military suc- 
cesses ; and the same is true for us at home as well as abroad. 
Yet it seems unreasonable that a series of successes, extending 
through half-a-year, and clearing more than a hundred thou- 
sand square miles of country, should help us so little, while a 
single half-defeat should hurt us so much. But let us be patient. 

I am very happy to know that my course has not conflicted 
with your judgment, of propriety and policy. 

I can only say that I have acted upon my best convictions 
without selfishness or malice, and that by the help of God, 
shall continue to do so. 

Please be assured of my highest respect and esteem. * 

On War Aims 
I have just read yours of the 19 th. addressed to myself 
through the New- York Tribune. If there be in it any state- 
ments, or assumption of fact, which I may know to be erro- 
neous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be 
in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, 
I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be per- 
ceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial zone, I waive it in 

1 To Agenor-Etienne de Gasparin, 8/4/62, V, 355-356. 


deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always suppos- 
ed to be right. 

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have 
not meant to leave any one in doubt. 

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way 
under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority 
can be restored ; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as 
it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, 
unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not 
agree with them. If there be those who would not save the 
Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I 
do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle 
is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy 
slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave 
I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves 
I would do it ; and if I could save it by freeing some and leav- 
ing others alone I would also do that. What I do about slav- 
ery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to 
save the Union ; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do 
not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less 
whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, 
and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will 
help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be 
errors ; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall ap- 
pear to be true views. 

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of 
official duty ; and I intend no modification of my oft-expres- 
sed personal wish that all men every where could be free. I 

We cannot Escape History 
I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper 
addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magis- 

1 To Horace Greeley, 8/22/62, V, 388-389. 


trate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my 
seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I, in 
the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the 
great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no 
want of respect to yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may 
seem to display.... 

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy 
present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we 
must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must 
think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, 
and then we shall save our country. 

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Con- 
gress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of 
ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can 
spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we 
pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest 
generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not 
forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The 
world knows we do know how to save it. W 7 e - even we here - 
hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom 
to the slave, we assure freedom to the free - honorable alike in 
what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or 
meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth. Other means may 
succeed ; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, gen- 
erous, just - a way which, if followed, the world will forever 
applaud, and God must forever bless. 1 

To Manchester Workingmen 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and 

resolutions which you sent to me on the eve of the new year. 

When I came, on the fourth day of March, 1861, through 

a free and constitutional election, to preside in the govern- 

1 Annual Message to Congress, 12/ 1/62, V, 536-537. 


ment of the United States, the country was found at the 
verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or 
whosoever the fault, one duty paramount to all others was be- 
fore me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Consti- 
tution and the integrity of the federal republic. A conscien- 
tious purpose to perform this duty is a key to all the measures 
of administration which have been, and to all which will 
hereafter be pursued. Under our form of government, and my 
official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I would. 
It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or 
restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies 
that they may deem it necessary for the public safety, from 
time to time, to adopt. 

I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation 
rests solely with the American people. But I have at the same 
time been aware that favor or disfavor of foreign nations 
might have a material influence in enlarging and prolonging 
the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is enga- 
ged. A fair examination of history has seemed to authorize a 
belief that the past action and influences of the United States 
were generally regarded as having been beneficent towards 
mankind. I have therefore reckoned upon the forbearance of 
nations. Circumstances, to some of which you kindly allude, 
induced me especially to expect that if justice and good faith 
should be practiced by the United States, they would en- 
counter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is 
now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you 
have given of your desire that a spirit of peace and amity to- 
wards this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen, 
who is respected and esteemed in your own country only 
more than she is by the kindred nation which has its home on 
this side of the Atlantic. 

I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the work- 


ingmen at Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure 
in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented 
that the attempt to overthrow this government, which was 
built upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute 
for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human 
slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the 
actions of our disloyal citizens the workingmen of Europe 
have been subjected to a severe trial, for the purpose of forc- 
ing their sanction to that attempt. Under these circumstan- 
ces, I cannot but regard your decisive utterance upon the 
question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which 
has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is, in- 
deed, an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent 
power of truth and of the ultimate and universal triumph of 
justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that the sen- 
timents you have expressed will be sustained by your great 
nation, and on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assur- 
ing you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the 
most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American 
people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an 
augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune 
may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship 
which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall 
be my desire to make them, perpetual. 1 

The President Writes Home 
Your letter inviting me to attend a mass-meeting of uncon- 
ditional Union-men, to be held at the Capital of Illinois, on 
the 3d day of September, has been received. 

It would be very agreeable to me, to thus meet my old 
friends, at my own home ; but I can not, just now, be absent 
from here, so long as a visit there, would require. 

1 To the Workingmen of Manchester, England, 1/19/63, VI, 63-65. 


The meeting is to be of all those who maintain uncondi- 
tional devotion to the Union ; and I am sure my old political 
friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's 
gratitude to those other noble men, whom no partizan malice, 
or partizan hope, can make false to the nation's life. 

There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I 
would say : You desire peace ; and you blame me that we do 
not have it. But how can we attain it ? There are but three 
conceivable ways. First, to suppress the rebellion by force of 
arms. This, I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so 
far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is, to 
give up the Union. I am against this. Are your for it? If you 
are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for force, nor 
yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable com- 
promise. I do not believe any compromise embracing the 
maintenance of the Union, is now possible. All I learn, leads 
to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the rebellion, is 
its military - its army. That army dominates all the country, 
and all the people, within its range. Any offer of terms made 
by any man or men within that range, in opposition to that 
army, is simply nothing for the present ; because such man or 
men, have no power whatever to enforce their side of a com- 
promise, if one were made with them. To illustrate - suppose 
refugees from the South, and peace men of the North, get 
together in convention, and frame and proclaim a compro- 
mise embracing a restoration of the Union ; in what way can 
that compromise be used to keep Lee's army out of Pennsyl- 
vania ? Meade's army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsyl- 
vania ; and, I think, can ultimately drive it out of existence. 
But no paper compromise, to which the controllers of Lee's 
army are not agreed, can, at all, affect that army. In an effort 
at such compromise we should waste time, which the enemy 
would improve to our disadvantage ; and that would be all. 


A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with 
those who control the rebel army, or with the people first 
liberated from the domination of that army, by the success of 
our own army. Now allow me to assure you, that no word or 
intimation, from that rebel army, or from any of the men 
controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever 
come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations 
to the contrary, are deceptive and groundless. And I promise 
you, that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall 
not be rejected, and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowl- 
edge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond 
of service - the United States constitution ; and that, as such, 
I am responsible to them. 

But, to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the 
negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between 
you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all 
men could be free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have 
neither adopted, nor proposed any measure, which is not con- 
sistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. 
I suggested compensated emancipation; to which you re- 
plied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had 
not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way, 
as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclu- 
sively by other means. 

You dislike the emancipation proclamation ; and, perhaps, 
would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional - I 
think differently. I think the constitution invests its command- 
er-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war. The most 
that can be said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is 
there - has there ever been - any question that by the law of 
war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken 
when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it, 
helps us, or hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy 


enemies' property when they can not use it ; and even destroy 
their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents 
do all in their power to help themselves, or hurt the enemy, 
except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among 
the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes, and 
non-combatants, male and female. 

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid, or is not valid. 
If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it can 
not be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to 
life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate 
favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction, than 
before the issue ? There was more than a year and a half of 
trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation issued, 
the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit 
notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt, 
returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progres- 
sed as favorably for us, since the issue of the proclamation as 
before. I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others, 
that some of the commanders of our armies in the field who 
have given us our most important successes, believe the 
emancipation policy, and the use of colored troops, consti- 
tute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion ; and that, at 
least one of those important successes, could not have been 
achieved when it was, but for the aid of black soldiers. Among 
the commanders holding these views are some who have 
never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism, or with 
republican party politics ; but who hold them purely as mili- 
tary opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to 
some weight against the objections, often urged, that emanci- 
pation, and arming the blacks, are unwise as military meas- 
ures, and were not adopted, as such, in good faith. 

You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them 
seem willing to fight for you ; but, no matter. Fight you, then, 


exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on 
purpose to aid in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have 
conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to 
continue fighting, it will be an apt time, then, for you to de- 
clare you will not fight to free negroes. 

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever 
extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that 
extent it weakened the enemy in his resistence to you. Do 
you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can 
be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white sol- 
diers to do, in saving the Union. Does is appear otherwise 
to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. 
Why should they do anything for us, if we will do nothing for 
them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted 
by the strongest motive - even the promise of freedom. And 
the promise being made, must be kept. 

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes 
unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great North- West for it. 
Nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles up, they met 
New-England, Empire, Key-Stone, and Jersey, hewing their 
way right and left. The Sunny South too, in more colors than 
one, also lent a hand. On the spot, their part of the history 
was jotted down in black and white. The job was a great na- 
tional one ; and let none be banned who bore an honorable 
part in it. And while those who have cleared the great river 
may well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that 
anything has been more bravely, and well done, than at An- 
tietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of 
lesser note. Nor must Uncle Sam's Web-feet be forgotten. 
At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only 
on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also 
up the narrow muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a 
little damp, they have been, and made their tracks. Thanks 


to all. For the great republic - for the principle it lives by, and 
keeps alive - for man's vast future, - thanks to all. 

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will 
come soon, and come to stay ; and so come as to be worth the 
keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that, 
among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the 
ballot to the bullet ; and that they who take such appeal are 
sure to lose their case, and pay the cost. And then, there will be 
some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, 
and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, 
they have helped mankind on to its great consummation; 
while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget 
that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have 
strove to hinder it. 

Still let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. 
Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, 
never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will 
give us the rightful result. l 

On Emancipation and Absolutism 
Knowing your great anxiety that the emancipation proclama- 
tion shall now be applied to certain parts of Virginia and 
Louisiana which were exempted from it last January, I state 
briefly what appear to me to be difficulties in the way of such 
a step. The original proclamation has no constitutional or 
legal justification, except as a military measure. The exemp- 
tions were made because the military necessity did not apply 
to the exempted localities. Nor does that necessity apply to 
them now any more than it did then. If I take the step must 
I not do so, without the argument of military necessity, and 
so, without any argument, except the one that I think the 
measure politically expedient, and morally right? Would I 

1 To James C. Conkling, 8/26/63, VI, 406-410. 


not thus give up all footing upon constitution or law? Would 
I not thus be in the boundless field of absolutism? Could this 
pass unnoticed, or unresisted ? Could it fail to be perceived 
that without any further stretch, I might do the same in Del- 
aware, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri ; and 
even change any law in any state ? Would not many of our 
own friends shrink away appalled ? Would it not lose us the 
elections, and with them, the very cause we seek to advance ? x 

On Anticipated Defeat 
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly 
probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. 
Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President 
elect, as to save the Union between the election and the 
inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such 
ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards. 2 

To Bind Up the Nation's Wounds 
At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential 
office, there is less occasion for an extended address than 
there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, 
of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, 
at the expiration of four years, during which public declara- 
tions have been constantly called forth on every point and 
phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, 
and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new 
could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which 
all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to 
myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encour- 
aging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in 
regard to it is ventured. 

1 To Salmon P. Chase, 9/2/63, VI, 428-442 . 

2 Memorandum Concerning His Probable Failure of Re-election, 8/23/64, 
VII, 5H- 


On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all 
thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil-war. 
All dreaded it - all sought to avert it. While the inaugural 
address was being delivered from this place, devoted alto- 
gether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were 
in the city seeking to destroy it without war-seeking to dissolve 
the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties 
deprecated war ; but one of them would make war rather than 
let the nation survive ; and the other would accept war rather 
than let it perish. And the war came. 

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, 
not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the 
Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and 
powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, 
the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend 
this interest was the object for which the insurgents would 
rend the Union, even by war ; while the government claimed 
no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargment 
of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or 
the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipa- 
ted that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even be- 
fore, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier 
triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both 
read the same Bible, and pray to the same God ; and each 
invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that 
any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wring- 
ing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces ; but let 
us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could 
not be answered ; that of neither has been answered fully. 
The Almighty has His own purposes. u Woe unto the world 
because of offences ! for it must needs be that offences come ; 
but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh !" If we 
shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences 


which, having continued through His appointed time, He 
now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and 
South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the 
offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from 
those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God 
always ascribe to Him ? Fondly do we hope - fervently do we 
pray - that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass 
away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth 
piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of un- 
requited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood 
drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the 
sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must 
be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous 

With malice toward none ; with charity for all ; with firm- 
ness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive 
on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's 
wounds ; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and 
for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve 
and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and 
with all nations. l 

A Righteous and Speedy Peace 
We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. 
The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surren- 
der of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous 
and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be re- 
strained. In the midst of this, however, He from Whom all 
blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national 
thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. 
Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of re- 
joicing, be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled 

1 Second Inaugural Address, 3/4/65, VIII, 332-333. 


out with others. I myself, was near the front, and had the 
high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you ; 
but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To 
Gen. Grant, his skilful officers, and brave men, all belongs. 
The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take 
active part. 

By these recent successes the re-inauguration of the na- 
tional authority - reconstruction - which has had a large 
share of thought from the first, is pressed much more close- 
ly upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. 
Unlike the case of a war between independent nations, there 
is no authorized organ for us to treat with. No one man has 
authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We 
simply must begin with, and mould from, disorganized and 
discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrass- 
ment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to 
the mode, manner, and means of reconstruction. 

As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of at- 
tacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to 
which I can not properly offer an answer. In spite of this 
precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am 
much censured for some supposed agency in setting up, and 
seeking to sustain, the new State Government of Louisiana. 
In this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the 
public knows.... 

We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of 
their proper practical relation with the Union ; and that the 
sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard 
to those States is to again get them into that proper practical 
relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier to 
do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these 
states have even been out of the Union than with it. Finding 
themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial 


whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing 
the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations 
between these states and the Union ; and each forever after, 
innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the 
acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or 
only gave them proper assistance, they never having been 
out of it.... 

What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to 
other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each 
state ; and such important and sudden changes occur in the 
same state; and, withal, so new and unprecedented is the 
whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can safely be 
prescribed as to details and colatterals. Such exclusive, and 
inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. 
Important principles may, and must, be inflexible. 

In the present "situation" as the phrase goes, it may be my 
duty to make some new announcement to the people of the 
South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satis- 
fied that action will be proper. I 

1 Last Public Address, 4/1 1/65, VIII, 399-405. 



On Red Tape and Military Protocol 
I suppose I ought to admit that I had much to do with the 
matter of which you complain. 

The committee came here some time last week, saying 
there were fourteen Regiments in N.Y. city, not within the 
38 you were organizing; that something must be done with 
them, - that they could not safely keep them longer, nor safe- 
ly disband them, I could not see - can not yet - how it could 
wrong you, or the Regiments you were raising, for these 14 to 
move forward at once, provided yours, too, would be receiv- 
ed when ready. But aware of my own ignorance in military 
matters, I sent to Genl. Scott to get his opinion whether the 
thing could be safely done, both as to the question of confu- 
sion, and also whether the Govt, could advantageously keep 
and use the whole. His answer that the whole should come - of 
the 14k] 5 to come here, & 9 to Fortress Monroe. I thought 
the whole difficulty was solved, and directed an order to be 
made accordingly. I was even pleased with it ; because I had 
been trying for two weeks to begin the collecting of a force 
at Fortress Monroe, and it now appeared as if this would 

Next day & after the committee had gone, I was brought 
to fear that a squabble was to arise between you and the 
committee, by which neither your Regiments nor theirs, 
would move in any reasonable time ; to avoid which, I wrote 
one of the committee - Mr. Russell - to send them at once. 

I am very loth to do any wrong; but I do not see yet 
wherein this was a wrong. 

I certainly did not know that any Regiments especially un- 


der your control were to be sent forward by the committee ; 
but I do not perceive the substantial wrong, even in such a 
case. That it may be a technical wrong, I can readily under- 
stand - but we are in no condition to waste time on techni- 

The enthusiastic uprising of the people in our cause, is 
our great reliance ; and we can not safely give it any check, 
even though it overflows, and runs in channels not laid down 
in any chart. 1 

On Perplexities of Military Politics 
I have just received, and read, your letter of the 20 th. The 
purport of it is that we lost the late elections, and the admin- 
istration is failing, because the war is unsuccessful ; and that 
I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it. 
I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, 
and that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. 
And I ought to be blamed, if I could do better. You think I 
could do better ; therefore you blame me already. I think I 
could not do better ; therefore I blame you for blaming me. 
I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men, 
who are not republicans, provided they have "heart in it." 
Agreed. I want no others. But who is to be the judge of 
hearts, or of "heart in it" ? If I must discard my own judg- 
ment, and take yours, I must also take that of others ; and by 
the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I 
should have none left, republicans, or others - not even your- 
self. For, be assured, my dear sir, there are men who have 
"heart in it" that think you are performing your part as 
poorly as you think I am performing mine. I certainly have 
been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan ; 
but before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find 

1 To Gov. Edwin D.Morgan of New York, 5/20/61, IV, 375. 


successors to them, who would do better ; and I am sorry to 
add, that I have seen little since to relieve those fears. I do not 
clearly see the prospect of any more rapid movements. I fear 
we shall at least find out that the difficulty is in our case, rath- 
er than in particular generals. I wish to disparage no one - 
certainly not those who sympathize with me ; but I must say 
I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have 
not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from 
my sympathizers, than from those who are denounced as the 
contrary. It does seem to me that in the field the two classes 
have been very much alike, in what they have done, and what 
they have failed to do. In sealing their faith with their blood, 
Baker, an[d] Lyon, and Bohlen, and Richardson, republi- 
cans, did all that men could do ; but did they any more than 
Kearny, and Stevens, and Reno, and Mansfield, none of 
whom were republicans, and some at least of whom, have 
been bitterly, and repeatedly, denounced to me as secession 
sympathizers? I will not perform the ungrateful task of com- 
paring cases of failure. 

In answer to your question "Has it not been publicly stat- 
ed in the newspapers, and apparently proved as a fact, that 
from the commencement of the war, the enemy was contin- 
ually supplied with information by some of the confidential 
subordinates of as important an officer as Adjutant General 
Thomas?" I must say "no" so far as my knowledge extends. 
And I add that if you can give any tangible evidence upon 
that subject, I will thank you to come to the City and do so. l 

The President Advises Gen. Hooker 
I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. 
Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be 
sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know 

1 To Carl Schurz, 11/24/62, V, 509-510. 



that there are some things in regard to which, I am not quite 
satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and a skilful 
soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not 
mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. 
You are ambitious, which within reasonable bounds, does 
good rather than harm. But I think that during Gen. Burn- 
side's command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your 
ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which 
you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most merito- 
rious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such 
way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the 
Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it 
was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the 
command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set 
up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and 
I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you 
to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less 
than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear 
that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, 
of criticising their Commander, and withholding confidence 
from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as 
I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were 
alive again, could get any good of an army, while such a spirit 
prevails in it. 

And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but 
with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us 
victories. ' 

On Limitation of Civil Liberties 
Gentlemen. Your letter of May 19th, inclosing the resolu- 
tions of a public meeting held at Albany, N. Y. on the 19 th. 
of the same month, was received several days ago. 

1 To Joseph Hooker, 1/26/63, VI, 78-79. 


The resolutions, as I understand them, are resolvable into 
two propositions - first, the expression of a purpose to sus- 
tain the cause of the Union, to secure peace through vic- 
tory, and to support the administration in every constitution- 
al, and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion; and sec- 
ondly, a declaration of censure upon the administration for 
supposed unconstitutional action, such as the making of mili- 
tary arrests. 

And, from the two propositions a third is deduced, which 
is, that the gentlemen composing the meeting are resolved on 
doing their part to maintain our common government and 
country, despite the folly or wickedness, as they may con- 
ceive, of any administration. This position is eminently pa- 
triotic, and as such, I thank the meeting, and congratulate 
the nation for it. My own purpose is the same ; so that the 
meeting and myself have a common object, and can have no 
difference, except in the choice of means or measures, for 
effecting that object. 

And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, 
if there were no apprehension that more injurious conse- 
quences, than any merely personal to myself, might follow 
the censures systematically cast upon me for doing what, in 
my view of duty, I could not forbear. The resolutions prom- 
ise to support me in every constitutional and lawful meas- 
ure to suppress the rebellion ; and I have not knowingly em- 
ployed, nor shall knowingly employ, any other. But the meet- 
ing, by their resolutions, assert and argue, that certain mili- 
tary arrests and proceedings following them for which I am 
ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. I think they are 

Prior to my installation here it had been inculcated that any 
State had a lawful right to secede from the national Union ; 
and that it would be expedient to exercise the right, when- 

1 62 


ever the devotees of the doctrine should fail to elect a Presi- 
dent to their own liking. I was elected contrary to their lik- 
ing ; and accordingly, so far as it was legally possible, they 
had taken seven states out of the Union, had seized many of 
the United States Forts, and had fired upon the United 
States' Flag, all before I was inaugurated ; and, of course, 
before I had done any official act whatever. The rebellion 
thus began soon, ran into the present civil war, and in certain 
respects, it began on very unequal terms between the parties. 
The insurgents had been preparing for it more than thirty 
years,while the government had taken no steps to resist them. 
The former had carefully considered all the means which 
could be turned to their account. It undoubtedly was a well 
pondered reliance with them that in their own unrestricted 
effort to destroy Union, constitution, and law, all together, 
the government would, in great degree, be restrained by the 
same constitution and law, from arresting their progress. 
Their sympathizers pervaded all departments of the govern- 
ment, and nearly all communities of the people. From this 
material, under cover of "Liberty of speech" "Liberty of the 
press" and "Habeas corpus" they hoped to keep on foot 
amongst us a most efficient corps of spies, informers, sup- 
plyers, and aiders and abettors of their cause in a thousand 
ways. They knew that in times such as they were inaugu- 
rating, by the constitution itself, the "Habeas corpus" might 
be suspended ; but they also knew they had friends who would 
make a question as to who was to suspend it ; meanwhile their 
spies and others might remain at large to help on their cause. 
Or if, as has happened, the executive should suspend the 
writ, without ruinous waste of time, instances of arresting 
innocent persons might occur, as are always likely to occur in 
such cases ; and then a clamor could be raised in regard to 
this, which might be, at least, of some service to the insur- 


gent cause. It needed no very keen perception to discover 
this part of the enemies' programme, as soon as by open hos- 
tilities their machinery was fairly put in motion. Yet, thor- 
oughly imbued with a reverence for the guaranteed rights 
of individuals, I was slow to adopt the strong measures, 
which by degrees I have been forced to regard as being with- 
in the exceptions of the constitution, and as indispensable 
to the public Safety. Nothing is better known to history than 
that courts of justice are utterly incompetent to such cases. 
Civil courts are organized chiefly for trials of individuals, or, 
at most, a few individuals acting in concert ; and this in quiet 
times, and on charges of crimes well defined in the law. Even 
in times of peace, bands of horse-thieves and robbers fre- 
quently grow too numerous and powerful for the ordinary 
courts of justice. But what comparison, in numbers, have 
such bands ever borne to the insurgent sympathizers even in 
many of the loyal states. Again, a jury too frequently have at 
least one member, more ready to hang the panel than to hang 
the traitor. And yet again, he who dissuades one man from 
volunteering, or induces one soldier to desert, weakens the 
Union cause as much as he who kills a union soldier in battle. 
Yet this dissuasion, or inducement, may be so conducted as 
to be no defined crime of which any civil court would take 

Ours is a case of Rebellion - so called by the resolutions 
before me - in fact, a clear, flagrant, and gigantic case of Re- 

I understand the meeting, whose resolutions I am consid- 
ering, to be in favor of suppressing the rebellion by mili- 
tary force - by armies. Long experience has shown that ar- 
mies can not be maintained unless desertion shall be pun- 
ished by the severe penalty of death. The case requires, and 
the law and the constitution, sanction this punishment. Must 


I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I 
must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to 
desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by get- 
ting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and 
there working upon his feelings, till he is persuaded to write 
the soldier boy, that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked 
administration of a contemptible government, too weak to 
arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such 
a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only 
constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy... 

In giving the resolutions that earnest consideration which 
you request of me, I can not overlook the fact the meeting 
speak as "Democrats." Nor can I, with full respect of their 
known intelligence, and the fairly presumed deliberation 
with which they prepared their resolutions, be permitted to 
suppose that this occurred by accident, or in any way other 
than that they preferred to designate themselves "Democrats" 
rather than "American citizens." In this time of national 
peril I would have preferred to meet you upon a level one 
step higher than any party platform ; because I am sure that 
from such more elevated position, we could do better battle 
for the country we all love, than we possibly can from those 
lower ones, where from the force of habit, the prejudices of 
the past, and selfish hopes of the future, we are sure to ex- 
pend much of our ingenuity and strength, in finding fault 
with, and aiming blows at each other. But since you have de- 
nied me this, I will yet be thankful, for the country's sake, 
hat not all Democrats have done so.... 

As the war progresses, it appears to me, opinion, and action, 
which were in great confusion at first, take shape, and fall 
into more regular channels; so that the necessity for arbi- 
trary dealing with them gradually decreases. I have every 
reason to desire that it would cease altogether ; and far from 


the least is my regard for the opinions and wishes of those 
who, like the meeting at Albany, declare their purpose to sus- 
tain the government in every constitutional and lawful meas- 
ure to suppress the rebellion. Still, I must continue to do so 
much as may seem to be required by the public safety. l 

On the Government^ s Iron Hand 
In using the strong hand, as now compelled to do, the gov- 
ernment has a difficult duty to perform. At the very best, it 
will by turns do both too little and too much. It can properly 
have no motive of revenge, no purpose to punish merely for 
punishment's sake. While we must, by all available means, 
prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid 
planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of 
society. 2 

On his Use of Power 
I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing 
is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think and 
feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency 
conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon 
this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I 
would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and de- 
fend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take 
the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I 
might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in 
using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil 
administration this oath even forbade me to practically in- 
dulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question 
of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in 
many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no of- 
ficial act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feel- 

1 To Erastus Corning and Others, [6-i2]-63, VI, 260-269. 

2 To Edwin M. Stanton, 3/18/64, VII, 255. 



ing on slavery. I did understand however, that my oath to 
preserve the constitution to the best of my ability, imposed 
upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable 
means, that government - that nation - of which that consti- 
tution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation, 
and yet preserve the constitution? By general law life and 
limb must be protected ; yet often a limb must be amputated 
to save a life ; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. 
I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might be- 
come lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation 
of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. 
Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. 
I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I have even 
tried to preserve the constitution, if, to save slavery, or any 
minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, 
country, and Constitution all together. When, early in the 
war, Gen. Fremont attempted military emancipation, I for- 
bade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable neces- 
sity had come... When, in March, and May, and July 1862 I 
made earnest, and successive appeals to the border states to 
favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispen- 
sable necessity for military emancipation, and arming the 
blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They 
declined the proposition ; and I was, in my best judgment, 
driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, 
and with it the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon 
the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hop- 
ed for greater gain than loss ; but of this, I was not entirely 
confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it 
in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, 
none in our white military force, - no loss by it any how or 
any where. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hun- 
dred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These 


are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cav- 
illing. We have the men ; and we could not have had them 
without the measure. 

And now let any Union man who complains of the meas- 
ure, test himself by writing down in one line that he is for 
subduing the rebellion by force of arms ; and in the next, that 
he is for taking these hundred and thirty thousand men from 
the Union side, and placing them where they would be but 
for the measure he condemns. If he can not face his case so 
stated, it is only because he can not face the truth.... 

I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not 
to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events 
have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle 
the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man 
devised, or expected. 1 

1 To Albert G.Hodges, 4/4/64, VII, 281-282. 

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Dr. William E. Baringer, currently on leave from the University of Florida where 
he serves as professor of history and social sciences, was appointed June 5, 1958 
as executive director 'of the national Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission, 
Washington, D. C. 

As a recognized historian and Lincoln scholar, Tulane University (New Orleans, 
Louisiana) had earlier appointed him to its faculty as assistant professor of history 
where he remained during the 1942-43 school term. He relinquished the univer- j 
sity post to accept the position as executive secretary of the Abraham Lincoln 
Association, Springfield, Illinois from 1943 to 1947. Professor Baringer is a 
member of Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Alpha Theta and Mu Pi Sigma fraternities. 

He is the author of three books on the life of Abraham Lincoln, which are : 
A House Dividing (1945), Lincoln's Rise to Power (1937), and Lincoln's Van- 
dalia (1949). 

A native of Jamestown, Indiana, Dr. Baringer attended the public schools of 
Indianapolis, Indiana and Urbana, Illinois and was graduated from the University 
of Illinois with the successive degrees of B. S., A.M. and Ph.D. Before moving 
to the higher education scene, Professor Baringer began his teaching career at 
Thornburn Junior High School, Urbana, Illinois while completing work for his 
doctorate degree at the University of Illinois. During this period, he wrote his first 

An associate summed up the author's distinctive characteristics when he said, 
"Dr. Baringer is a brilliant historian of incisive mentality, thoroughly addicted to 
historical honesty and common sense, giving vent to sound intuitive opinion with 
feirless conviction."